Co-Parenting Your Teens During the Holiday Season
To many the Holidays bring home the thought of coming together as one big happy family enjoying the festivities together, (well I am not sure if it is true for many in this economy). To us professionals who work with families and teenagers, it is time to brace ourselves for the family divide and conflict that comes with the holidays for many of the families we work with.
Although it can be difficult, the holidays can be just as pleasantly memorable as those of the past. It’s all about learning to transition and adjust for the parents and children. The children are watching and learning how each parent is adjusting and transitioning at all phases. It is therefore crucial for parents to remember that no family is perfect. Together, you and your children can deal with the changes and re-create the magic of the holidays in a new way. If there’s love, forgiveness and peace any holiday will be just as celebratory as it should be.
Here are a few Holiday Survival Tips:
- Release all Expectations.
Live in the moment. If you two are communicating well at this point, then maybe plan to do the holidays together. The kids will love it! On the other hand, if communication is still a struggle or ill feelings are still present, then celebrating apart may be better for all involved. Don’t forget that you get to choose what a successful holiday season looks like for you and your children. Trust your gut and release all expectation.
- Don’t make your children decide who to spend the holidays with.
It is very difficult and awkward for the children to be in between their loving parents. It is therefore, not fair to make them choose between the two most important people in their lives. It’s difficult for them to have to make the choice between mom and dad.
Make it a point to Check in with the other parent before making any plans.
Hopefully you and your ex will have a co-parenting plan or visitation schedule in place outlining who is with the children for each holiday, that always helps when communication is minimal to none. If not you will need to discuss any potential plans with each other and come to an agreement. Things can get more complicated if there are misunderstandings or miscommunications. It’s best to come up with a reasonable schedule for the holidays way in advance if possible.
- Agree and Commit to Compromising if all else fails.
Think of a way to compromise if it happens that there are disagreements on where the children will go. Try to not get too frustrated, and do not get caught up in your emotions. Instead, calmly assess the priorities of the holiday, and what you want to do most with your plans.
- Remember this is time for a fresh start, new traditions, and keeping the old ones, if possible.
A divorce or separation doesn’t have to mean that all fun holiday traditions should be over. Instead, come up with new ones for the family to enjoy. Depending on the tradition, you’ll have to determine what’s appropriate and what’s not. With every situation, be mindful of what’s appropriate for the children as well as you and the other parent. Ask yourself what will likely be a positive experience for everyone.
- Stay in gratitude.
No matter how your divorce or break up went down, you two created a beautiful human being (or few) together. There was love at some point or there is love for the children. So, stay there. Stay in love, and I’m not talking about with your ex! (love of life and the gift of parenting) I’m also saying to stay in the spirit of love, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and gratitude. This season is all about LOVE, right? So, as we head into the holidays may we remember it is a season to be jolly.
Be Encouraged & Encouraging
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