Thomas Ryan Rumfelt, PLLC Thomas Ryan Rumfelt, PLLC
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Happier holiday co-parenting takes planning, flexibility, love

Holiday time is a time of tradition for most of us. If you are a family going through divorce or separation, holiday time can mean significantly added pressures to life as children seek and parents try to deliver the happiest of holidays possible.

Attorneys experienced in and sensitive to such parenting challenges know these can be hard times, but also know it is possible to not just weather potential storms but sail through them. What it takes is robust planning, flexibility, a mindset of understanding and reflection on the fact that joy in the holidays is rooted in love.

Stay focused on priorities

Parents naturally want things to be as close to perfection as they can be for the children all the time. That's especially true during holiday times. Divorce and separation, of course, can fan negative emotions within families. It might not be possible or healthy to keep those feelings bottled up, but you can work to control eruptions. Here's what many experts recommend in this regard:

  • Keep children at the center. Among the questions worth asking might be, what can they handle? Family demands can lead parents to try to get stops in everywhere, all in one day. How will that fly with your kids? If creating good memories is the goal and the pull of family means aggravation rather than amity, is it worth it?
  • Plan early and accordingly. If you are already divorced, you may have a parenting plan in place for the holidays. That said if it is several years old, it might need updating. An attorney can help. If no plan exists, negotiating one is a wise move. Once again, don't forget the children. If you have a toddler who needs a nap to avoid meltdowns or a teen who wants time with friends, consider what accommodations might be required.
  • Bend and stretch. This idea isn't meant literally, but figuratively. It's essential to have a plan for the holidays, but also important to remember that circumstances can change suddenly. A bug could sweep through the family, requiring the shelving of some plans. Some out-of-town family members might unexpectedly visit. By being flexible to situations as they develop, you have an opportunity to create some good will.
  • Coordinate on gifts. Parents don't always see eye-to-eye on what gifts are appropriate for the children. By coordinating ideas, setting limits on costs and agreeing to avoid any perception of outdoing each other, you stand the best chance of a happier holiday.

One last thing – don't forget you. While focusing on the children is a positive position to take, you have a right to make the time you need for yourself. Take care of you, and you'll be in better shape to take care of the children.

Happy holidays.

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