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How to Coparent During Holidays After A Divorce

It’s that particular time of year again, but for many divorced couples, the holidays can mean arguments, miscommunication, and anger. You have the opportunity to spare your child the pain of conflict with some planning and compromise. Coparenting on holidays can be successful with a little extra effort.

How Can Poor Coparenting Affect the Holidays?

In my years as a divorce attorney in representing children in custody cases, I’ve seen children attend holiday shows two nights in a row. They never even told the other parent that they’ve already seen it. Sometimes, the child pretends to have new experiences to avoid causing an argument between their parents or hurt feelings. I’ve also seen gifts duplicated, and the child then has to feign excitement when they open the same gift. I’ve seen arguments ensue because one parent purchased something the other parent disapproved of, like a cell phone. I’ve seen children have to eat two dinners on Christmas Eve.

What Do the Holidays Look Like After a Divorce?

The holidays after a divorce are going to look a little different. There’s no way to avoid it, but you can start to put things into place to prevent the conflict. One thing you can do is start early. Start communicating about holidays at least a month in advance. Add special events to a shared calendar, so both parents are aware of the event.

How Can You Set A Co-parenting Holiday Schedule?

Are there school events or other events that you would like your child to attend, but it’s not a parenting night? Consider all of those options as you look at the holiday calendar. Keep in mind that you will have to be flexible here. After all, the holiday has all kinds of things that disrupt the regular parenting schedule. Remember, communication is the key to successfully co-parenting through holidays. If you start early enough, you can map out the entire month. If you find that one or both of you needs to exchange parenting time, you can both agree. This way, no one misses out on anything.


Coparent Successfully and Share Custody On Holidays

Suppose you want your ex to be accommodating. It would be best if you were as well. It works both ways. For example, if there’s an event, you both would enjoy attending for the child’s benefit. Think about how you both can be involved. Can you divide up tasks associated with the event? Can you share pictures? Can you put aside your differences for one hour, so your child sees both parents in attendance as a united front? Right now, this looks different because of the COVID-19 situation. However, you can take this with you for years into the future. The point is, don’t make it stressful for your child. You have an opportunity to enjoy something with your child just as much as you can ruin it for them. Does that sound harsh, perhaps, but it’s the truth.

The Importance of Communicating with the Other Parent About Gifts

You have to talk about gifts early. When parents don’t communicate about Christmas or other Holiday gifts, conflict can occur. Feelings will be hurt. Your child will be in the middle of it as they try to express excitement over a gift they’ve just received from the other parent, or maybe from a relative of the other parent.

How to Prepare for a Gift Exchange As a Coparent

Here’s something to think about as you prepare for gift giving. What has your child expressed to you that they want for the holidays? Have you communicated with the other parents to make sure you guys are on the same page? Is the gift something that will remain in one home, like a trampoline or a basketball hoop? In that case, it doesn’t matter what the other parent is doing or if they are getting the same thing. Suppose it is something that will move with your child, like clothing or a stuffed animal. You have to work together to make sure there is not a duplicate of it.

Questions To Consider

  • Is it a big gift, an individual or joint gift?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Who should pay for it?
  • Is the other parent also purchasing it?
  • Are there other gifts that are off-limits?
  • Are you purchasing a gift that requires rules?
  • Is a relative purchasing the gift?

Respect Your Former Partner’s Rules and Limitations Regarding Gifts

A phone, for example, is a gift that is commonly considered off-limits. A lot of parents disagree on whether a child should be allowed to have a phone. If you are buying a gift that requires rules, ask how long the child can use it. The rules could be something like how long the child can play the video game each day. Also, be sure to let the other parent know if a relative is purchasing a gift. It’s easy to see how arguments can erupt if you’re not communicating.

Listen, your kids are growing up so fast. Don’t we say that all the time? Let’s let the holidays’ memories be fun ones.

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