Holidays make memories that last a lifetime. And as parents, we want to create and foster the warmth and magic of the season. A divorce or paternity litigation — especially if recent — can make children feel more anxious. Children are also more intuitive than adults may give them credit for: if you are stressed, the children will know it and they are more likely to feel stressed, as well.
You and the other parent have addressed some of the issues surrounding holiday time sharing with your children via a Florida parenting plan, which may have been agreed upon by the two of you, or may have been decided upon by the Court in your case. Most parenting plans focus on shared parental responsibility (or co-parenting), require mutual respect to be shown by the parents to each other, and provide for the parties to promote the love of the child for both parents and to communicate, cooperate and mutually agree as to all important aspects of the lives of their children. It also emphasizes that children come first, and that it is important to shelter children from the conflicts between the parents, and from any court proceedings which may be going on. The issues of time sharing and co-parenting with the other parent often are even more acute over the holidays.
Here are some tips that can help families make the holidays happier:
- Plan in advance: If all parties are on the same page, there is less likely to be arguments and misunderstandings. Also, make sure your children know in advance what the schedule is.
- Keep it simple: Elaborate plans take away from the most important gift you can give your child — time spent together.
- Consider starting new traditions: Keep those traditions that are important to your children, but also think about starting something new and special.
- Don’t turn gift-giving into a way to buy your child’s affection: If possible, discuss a budget with your ex and decide who will give what gifts (to avoid duplication of the same gift). Remember what counts most is the spirit of the season.
Timesharing over the holidays should emphasize the sharing. If you have questions about parenting plans or wish to modify an existing plan, a Florida family law attorney can help you and protect your child’s best interest.
Attorney Andrea Jevic also contributed to this blog post.