As a parent, you naturally want your children to experience all of the joy of the holiday season — but holiday conflicts with your ex can set the stage for some very sour memories.
How can you avoid holiday problems with your ex?
First, pick up your parenting plan and review it. Most parenting plans have a holiday schedule in place, and you don’t want to trust your memory. Knowing exactly what expectations the plan creates can help you negotiate from a position of strength.
Second, ask your ex to sit down and talk about the upcoming holidays. Explain that you just want to be on the same page where the kids are concerned. Let your ex know that you want to work together to create a stress-free holiday that the kids will enjoy.
Third, talk about the following concerns (if they apply):
- Are there any special visits that need to be planned? Visits with extended family members are common during the winter holidays, and your children may look forward to seeing their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. You and your ex need to be flexible about visitation, whenever possible.
- Are there any family traditions that should be discussed? Maybe your family always drove around every Christmas Eve to look at the lights. Will you still do this together as a team? Will you each take the kids on different nights? Should you forgo the tradition altogether in favor of new ones?
- Are there group events you both need to attend? If, for example, your daughter has a holiday recital, she probably expects both of her parents to be there. Planning ahead can help you and your ex remain civil, even under stress.
- Are there any discussions you should have about gifts? If your finances are different, you may need to talk about splitting the cost of major gifts. If your ex has a tendency to go overboard, you may want to discuss limitations on quantity or price.
What happens if you can’t work things out?
The holidays have a strange effect on people. Some become more loving and giving, while others get demanding and unreasonable. If your ex-spouse is making unreasonable demands or refuses to obey your parenting plan, you may need some help. A family law attorney can guide you through the options.