Guest Column: Working together to make holidays work

This article originally appeared in the Stow Sentry.


Holidays are fun times for families. Many holidays are rich in traditions, food, and family. Springtime brings a number of ethnic, religious and family holidays.

Most parents want their children to be with them on the holidays. Children love spending time with parents and extended families during those times.

When parents are separated or divorced, holidays can sometimes be full of tension and conflict. It is sometimes difficult for parents to want to share the children, or not see the children on holidays. Here are some tips for making it work.

Children don’t care what day something happens on. Most children don’t keep track of the calendar or the holiday schedule. What they care about most is keeping the same traditions the family had when they were together. That may be special worship services, special decorations and food. They love special holiday activities that happen year to year. Being flexible with the other parent, and the other parent’s extended family, lets children enjoy these traditions with both parents.

Children don’t mind having more than one holiday celebration. In my years working with families in Domestic Relations Court, I have never had a child tell me they didn’t want two Christmases, two Hanukkahs, two Easter egg hunts, two of anything! Children simply want to enjoy the holidays with each parent and their families. You can schedule your holiday for any day on the calendar. Your children won’t mind.

They only thing that can spoil the holidays for kids is the parents’ disagreements. The Standard Order of Parenting time for holidays is designed to allow children to have time with each parent on an alternating schedule.

However, parents can agree to any schedule that meets their children’s needs and desires. If parents can’t agree, then they fall back on the Standard Order. I have spoken to hundreds of children over the years. With very few exceptions, what children really want is to love both parents, to spend time with both parents, to have both parents love them, and for their parents never to fight and argue.

Working together with the other parent allows children to relax and enjoy their holiday. It teaches children how to problem solve in a civil respectable way (even with people they may not like). That is an important skill they need for life.

Parents are children’s most important teachers. They watch everything we do. Parents who give their child to the other parent freely, and encourage their children to build a good relationship with both families, help their children to become loving and caring adults. Hopefully, these tips will assist parents in making the holidays a time to treasure.

Photo credit: Adam Carter on flickr under Creative Commons

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