Holiday time is approaching and thoughts naturally turn to family. Media hype, in its many forms, paints a perfect picture of the holidays showing families enjoying food, gifts, and fun together. Though that scenario is often true, holidays can be stressful. Whose turn is it this time to host? Where should it happen? Fly or drive? For children of divorce the stress is compounded by even more issues. With several sets of family and friends, there are often more logistics to consider. Many children like to be at home during the holidays and don’t want to spend the day traveling. Older children may have experienced family traditions that remain special to them and want to continue them. Often there are special family members and friends they want to include in the festivities. Fortunately, with consideration of the needs and wants of everyone involved, there are many options to satisfy the issues and make the holidays happy times for all.
You Don’t Have to Do it Alone
Though parents usually put their children’s needs first in any situation, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for divorced parents to do so. If can be overwhelming for parents to determine what is best for their families. It’s important to remember that holidays are not just about one person and spouses should not be in competition with each other over the details. Instead, couples need to communicate and coordinate with each other. If you are having difficulty negotiating the issues and logistics of family holidays, a family law mediator can help. A licensed, experienced family mediator acts as a neutral third party. The mediator aids in the discussion of family needs and desires, diffuses any animosity, and guides parents in finding the best resolutions for the holidays. The mediator can also help parents think of new family traditions and ways to create new memories. Here are some positive options for setting up a holiday schedule:
Split the Holiday – A good option for major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, splitting the holiday means children spend half the day with each parent. This solves the issue of parents and family members who don’t want to miss out on a holiday with the children for an entire year and works well if parents live near each other.
Schedule the Holiday Twice Each Year – This also works for parents who don’t want to miss the annual holiday or split the day. For example, one family celebrates Thanksgiving on Thursday while the other celebrates on Friday, or one celebrates Christmas Eve and the other Christmas Day.
Different Holidays for Each Parent – Some holidays may be more important to one parent than the other. Parents of different religions appreciate this option---one parent can celebrate Hanukah and the other Christmas.
Alternate the Holidays – Holidays can be assigned to parents on even or odd years. Parents don’t miss a holiday for more than one year in a row and it reduces the time children spend traveling.
Three-Day Weekends – Alternate the three-day weekend every year, splitting it in half, or alternating the holiday only.
Most holiday schedules include major federal and school holidays, such as New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as other religious holidays each parent may follow. If parents live close to each other, children usually spend Mother’s Day with their mother and Father’s Day with their father. Finally, parents will need to name specific start and end times, as well as assign transportation responsibilities, to avoid confusion on each holiday. It is important to note that holidays and vacation time always supersede the regular visitation schedule.
To learn more about the mediation process, complete our request for a free online evaluation, and to receive a free 30-minute phone consultation, or call 619-702-9174.