Give Your Child the Gift of Fair Parenting During the Holidays

In an ideal world, every child would get to experience the joy of Christmas morning with both of his or her parents, but sadly, “ideal” is not always what children get. According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of people marry before the age of 50, but 40 to 50% of those unions (at least, those that occur in the U.S.) end in divorce. As of November 17, 2016, 69% of children (those 18 or younger) lived with two parents; however, that percentage sharply decreased since 1960, when the percentage hovered at 88%. It is becoming the norm for children to grow up in a split household, but just because it is the norm, does that mean it is any easier? At Clark Law Groups, we know that it is not—especially during the holidays.

The Challenges Posed by the Holidays, and How You Can Overcome Them

Divorce forces couples to think about things they never would have given a second thought to before, one of which is, how do we split up the holidays? Who gets the child on Christmas Eve, and who gets to wake up with them on Christmas morning? Should they split the day, 50/50, or do every other year? Which parent gets to uphold which family traditions? How do the parents make sure that the child does not miss out on family time with either set of grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles?

As a divorced parent, there are many challenges that you will face during the holiday season, but the biggest of which is making sure that your child—despite all of the changes—is happy. So, how can you do that? Our Dallas family law attorneys at Clark Law Group have a few tips that you can use to help you establish and maintain a fair and effective holiday shared parenting schedule.

Consider Your Children First and Foremost

Holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but for children of divorce, the holidays can mean stress, arguments, competition, sadness, anger, and disappointment. You can help your children avoid negative emotions by listening to them during the holidays—ask them about what they want to do and with whom they want to spend time. Do not minimize their feelings, and most importantly, do not forget that the holidays are supposed to be fun. Avoid starting arguments with your former partner, and try your best to work with him or her.

Start New Traditions

For children of divorce—especially older children—the holidays can be particularly difficult because they are used to certain family traditions. You can help ease the pain and sadness, and even help your child look forward to more holidays in a “split family,” by starting new traditions.

Plan Ahead

The worst thing that you and your former spouse can do for your child is to fail to come up with a holiday parenting plan. Failure to establish a schedule can lead to arguments, confusion, and resentment. You can avoid all this by establishing in a court-ordered agreement that dictates where your child should be and when during the holidays. For instance, your court agreement may state that your child is with Dad from 3 pm until 9 pm on Christmas Eve on even years, and with Mom from 9 pm until 3 pm on Christmas Day; the schedule may switch on odd numbered years. This type of plan can help to avoid confusion and misunderstandings and establish consistency, which the child will come to grow used to and even crave.

Retain the Help of a Compassionate Dallas Family Law Attorney

If you want to help your child enjoy the holidays rather than just cope with them, it is imperative that you plan ahead. Establish a holiday parenting schedule and get it in writing, and agree to get along with your child’s other parent at least for the holidays. Keep in mind that though the holidays may be hard on you, they are even more painful for your child.

At Clark Law Group, we strive to help ease that pain of divorce by helping parents establish a holiday parenting plan that works for everyone. If you need help easing the pain of divorce for your child, reach out to our Dallas child custody lawyers today.

(image courtesy of Annie Spratt)

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