The holidays are supposed to be special, but for many families, they can be stressful and emotionally charged following a divorce. When parents are determining holiday visitation schedules, it is always best to put the interests and well-being of the child first. Doing so will go a long way toward ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to relax and enjoy spending time together. And, while it may mean giving up beloved traditions, it can also mean establishing new ones going forward.
Determining How to Divide the Holidays
Most families choose to divide the holidays so that the child has an opportunity to engage with as many family members as possible. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Moreover, some families enjoy large Christmas celebrations, while others enjoy a grand Thanksgiving or Easter. Some families live close to one another, while others are far-flung across the country. These are just some of the scheduling considerations parents should make so that the child can engage with family and celebrate the traditions they enjoy.
When dividing holidays, it’s a good idea to go into the process with a give and take approach. I’ll give you Easter, and you give me Thanksgiving. Some divide it by alternating Christmas this year and Christmas next year, etc. Ultimately, you will want to share the holidays so that each parent and their respective family members can spend time with your children.
Handling Special Circumstances
Life happens, and when it does, it can throw a holiday visitation plan into chaos. Family members can become ill or pass away. Work schedules can interfere, and changing weather or road conditions can make it dangerous to deliver a child to an appointed destination. Both parents should keep this in mind and put the best interests of the child before their own.
As such, parents should build some flexibility into their holiday visitation schedule. This makes it easier to adapt the plan if it becomes necessary and will ease the stress on both parents and the child.
Further, parents should understand that the holiday visitation schedule can change as the years go by. As parents get older, they may not host big celebrations. As people move away for college or jobs, cousins, aunts, uncles, and others may not come back for the holidays. Parents should recognize these changes and adapt the plan as their child expresses their desires.
Technology Shrinks the Distance
While a child may be physically in one location, that doesn’t mean they can’t be in two places at once. Skype, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and other programs make it possible for the child to interact with the other side of their family no matter where they are in the country. Parents should allow their children to make these contacts on holidays, birthdays, etc. This can ease feelings of anxiousness and homesickness. Scheduling these contacts makes it easier to keep the child “present” with both families, and it helps ensure that the privacy and sanctity of the other family are preserved and not infringed upon.