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How to Be a Good Co-Parent During the Holidays

Co-parenting is a challenge at the best of times. During the holidays, it can feel like a hellscape. No matter what it is you celebrate—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s—you are used to celebrating it with your kid. You are used to celebrating it in a specific way. When you have half the time that you used to have with your child, and you have to navigate with your ex to secure that time, it can make the spirit of the season start to feel a little too cold.

It is important to remember, through all of this, that the children are most important. Whatever is in their best interest is what you and your ex should both agree on. The visitations – and even the holidays themselves – are for the enjoyment of the kids. If it feels like the situation is nothing but a stressor, remember that it’s ultimately not about you: it’s about your kids. Co-parenting doesn’t mean they can’t have the best holiday they’ve ever had!

Here are some tips to navigating the holiday situation with your ex:

  • Traditions can change. Most families have a set way they like to do things over the holidays. It’s important to remember that you were the one who made those traditions, and that means you can change them just as easily. You wouldn’t have wanted to do the same thing on your birthday every year of your life. That means a new holiday tradition can be even better than the one you’re used to!
  • Be proactive. If you are concerned about how seriously your ex is taking COVID, make sure to communicate that ahead of time. Have a plan in place before the visit even begins to know where your child will be and who they may be in contact with. A good plan starts long before it can become a reality.
  • Let them talk to their kids. It’s your house, but it’s still their parents. If you have visitation on the actual day of the holiday, let your child Facetime their other parent. It doesn’t have to be for long (30 minutes works great), but it means a lot to both of them.
  • Choose your battles. What matters more: how long they spend with your ex, or how late they stayed up when they were there? Being able to call your child, or what presents they got? The holidays are a time of forgiveness, and sometimes that means just letting things slide. Know going into the season what is most important to you, and don’t let a fight break out over every little thing.

The most important thing over the holidays is the same rule that is most important all year: Communicate, communicate, communicate! Know your plan and what is going to happen over the holidays far ahead of time. If your ex is planning to take your kid on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, understand it is okay to be more lenient than usual. 

This year, be proactive and make sure the holiday surprises are all for your child, not for you. It’s the most wonderful time of the year to be a kid, and it is worth working to make that true—even if it isn’t always easy. If you need help modifying a current parenting plan or are in the process of creating one, Branch Family Law is here for you. Reach out to us today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.