1. Curtail negative comments about your ex
You may have family and friends who still harbor resentment or strong feelings of animosity towards your ex. That’s normal – the people who love us the most feel protective of us, and they may not be so willing to forgive and forget. But when family gets together, if the conversation turns to your ex or the problems in your marriage, shut it down. Don’t let others badmouth your ex in front of your kids, and don’t participate in the conversation yourself. You can gently redirect the speaker, confront them outright, or look for other uncomfortable conversations advice online. Remember, your ex is still your child’s parent, and kids don’t need to hear (or overhear) salacious details about your marriage or nasty comments about their parent.
2. Plan ahead
There is a lot going on in the month of December and sharing parenting time with your ex just adds one more layer to the schedule. Mark your calendar now and know who has the kids the night of the band concert, the school play, or other extracurricular activity. Do you have activities that don’t involve your kids, such as office parties or social group gatherings? Does your ex? Get those on your calendar and see how they align with your parenting schedule. Remember – it’s OK to say no to some invitations. Establish your priorities and stick with them.
3. Keep the lines of communication open
Is it your night to pick up the kids but you got held up leaving your office party? Call your ex. Let them know when you’ll be there if you’re running late. Keep in mind that your tardiness may impact their plans, so if you can’t be prompt, be polite and let your ex know. Is your child anxious about an upcoming event, but they’ll be with the other parent that day? Call or text and let your ex know what you’ve noticed and communicate any concerns your child may have discussed with you. Sometimes kids will open up more to one parent than the other, so talk to your ex and let them know if your child is dealing with some difficult emotions during the holiday.
4. Try to be flexible when you can
Is your ex asking to switch parenting time because of a special family gathering? If you don’t have anything planned that day, make the switch. Let the kids see their other family members that they may not get to see very often. Saying “no” to special requests just because it’s “your” time and for no other reason won’t win you any points with your kids. Listen to what they want. Stand your ground when you need to, but try to be flexible if you have the option.
5. Love your kids more than you dislike your ex
If you remember only one tip, remember this one, and the rest will fall into place. Acting out of spite instead of the best interest of the kids is a lose-lose situation. What good is refusing to allow them to go to your ex’s special event just because it’s on “your” night with them if they stay in their room and pout all night? It may not be easy, and if this is your first holiday season separated or divorced, it might even be incredibly hard. But knowing that you acted in the best interest of your kids at every turn and you were able to overcome any urges to get back at your ex will only serve to make you stronger in the long run. Remember, the holidays will come around again next year, and if you start a game of tit-for-tat now, don’t be surprised if it comes back to haunt you next season. Choose love, choose your kids, and make their holidays happy. Remember the kids in Talladega Nights making the best of a bad situation… “Two Christmases!”
Happy Holidays from our family to yours!
The lawyers and staff at Kirkland and Sommers wish you a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season. Thank you for trusting us to help you with all of your family law needs this year. We are here to help when you need us and always offer a free consultation. We’re just a click away!