Annually, thousands of New Jersey families join a growing group: divorced or separated co-parents who have to collaborate about parenting through the holiday season. This situation is increasingly our new national normal, but that does not mean it isn’t hard.
Whatever you celebrate, as the holiday season approaches, like many parents, you likely experience holiday stress as well as festive feelings.
Avoiding Seasonal Stress
Holiday traditions involve expectations that can be especially challenging for parents who are post-divorce or post-separation. The holiday season just before separation was likely filled with conflict, and you now face the potential of a more peaceful reality.
However, while separation can help reduce household conflict, it can also lead to new forms of stress. Family courts in New Jersey are often backlogged, meaning they are especially full of urgent court proceedings as the festive season approaches.
Proactive planning can help prevent your family from adding to the backlog in the family courts. It can also keep your money in your own holiday budget and out of the pockets of lawyers.
A majority of today’s separated or divorced parents are in a shared parenting situation. New Jersey favors the active involvement of both parents in children’s lives post-separation, rather than having one “access” parent with a limited role in the decision-making and one with “custody.”
Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays
Co-parenting during the holiday season can be challenging, but it is essential to prioritize your children’s best interests.
So, as the holidays approach, it is likely useful to remind yourself of some tips to look after the best interests of your children over the holidays.
- Plan ahead: Start planning for the holidays well in advance. Establish a clear schedule and communication plan with your ex-spouse to avoid last-minute conflicts.
- Be flexible: Be open to adjusting the schedule when necessary. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances may arise, and it’s important to be adaptable for the sake of your children.
- Respect and create traditions: Respect each other’s family traditions and beliefs. Encourage your children to appreciate the diversity of each celebration.
- Share responsibilities: Share the financial and logistical responsibilities of the holidays fairly.
- Avoid competing: Don’t compete with your co-parent for the children’s affection through extravagant gifts or experiences.
- Seek support: Whatever problems existed in the marriage are likely to persist in post-separation interactions.
Giving Children Happy Holiday Memories
Co-parenting during the holidays is a new normal across New Jersey. Working together, you can create a positive holiday experience for your children. Children can also be involved in co-creating plans for the holidays for their contemporary families.