Parenting over the Christmas period with longer than usual school holidays is a handful for the best of us. Co-Parenting during this period for couples that are no longer together can at times seem like an impossible task. So how can you attend to this period without completely failing your children (and/or sending each other completely crazy in the process). Most parents genuinely love their children and their goal is to give the children the best Christmas achievable. But there are times that the old hurt resurfaces and emotions cloud judgments.
The following list is not exhaustive and it will look different for each family but perhaps one of these tips will help your child be able to cope with split parents that are unable to co-parent a little easier:
There is no “Team You”. There is no “Team I”. There is only “Team Kid”. “Team Kid” is what you need to be focused on. “Team Kid” has maternal and paternal family members that will be looking forward to seeing them over this Christmas period. An excitement about seeing the other’s family does not translate to less love for you or yours. There is no “I” in team. Embrace all the team members and show your child that “Team Kid” is important to all members of the “Team Kid” side.
At Joplin Lawyers, we start thinking about Christmas time early in the year. Often this festive time becomes the most contentious issue especially if it is not planned appropriately.
Parents need to think about what works best for “Team Kid”. By this we mean, how old is “Team Kid”, is there a lot of travel between family homes, is one parent having family that “Team Kid” don’t often get to create memories with. Should the arrangement be traditional time arrangements such as sharing Christmas day or does alternating Christmas work better for “Team Kid”? Should or could Christmas be celebrated prior to or after Christmas. Now that the family unit is no longer together it is important for both parents to be able to create special memories, new traditions in their home. Just because it has always been the celebrations on the 25th of December does not mean that the parents cannot agree to change the celebrations or traditions to best meet the needs of “Team Kid”.
Planning requires communication. If you are unable to communicate there are excellent parenting courses that assist and focus on positive communication. We strongly suggest that all of our clients, upon their first consultation with Joplin Lawyers attend upon a ‘Parenting After Separation’ course, or the like, to better help them understand how they can communicate in the best interest of “Team Kid”. For “Team Kid” it is not about who is right or who can prove that they are right, it is about parents being able to communicate in a respectful manner that is heard and understood by “Team Kid” to reduce the anxiety around communication of their parents.
If you can plan and communicate you are almost there to making “Team Kid” holiday period stress-free and enjoyable.
Communication is a little tricky sometimes, use mediation as a tool to ventilate holiday time or engage with your lawyer so that productive and amicable correspondence can be sent to the other parent to assist with this matter. But do not leave it to November, start planning this in July so that by the time December comes this is all done and dusted.
It is a hectic time of year in general. Take five minutes, however, to exhale with “Team Kid”. A year of running between two households is tiring for big and little kids. Schedule some downtime where you can reconnect with “Team Kid”.
I absolutely love to hear from my clients that they have gone Christmas shopping with “Team Kid” and have helped “Team Kid” purchase a gift for the other parent, step-parent and siblings in the other home. What I love hearing more than this is the happiness that a gesture like this does for “Team Kid”. This gesture speaks a 1000 word for “Team Kid” and goes a long way down the road to successful co-parenting.
Do not stop “Team Kid” from talking about Christmas and the experiences they experienced with the other parent. Focus your energy on all the good that “Team Kid” has experienced during their time with the other parent. Unless there is a really good reason why presents cannot go between houses allow “Team Kid” to enjoy gifts between the homes. Focus on the joy that these bring to “Team Kid”.
This is a little different to what you would normally expect from a law firm, however, at all times during all court cases one must go back and consider what is in the best interests of the children. And, as such, we firmly hold the view that just because parties’ relationships break down that it does not automatically mean that the parents should hate each other. We understand that issues happen in a relationship that cannot be forgiven, however, to not forgive at the price or suffering of “Team Kid” can never be justified.
We hope that these tips are of assistance to your co-parenting better over the festive period.
Read our article about Unilateral Decisions in parenting.
If you need help with a matter, please call 1300 JOPLIN (1300 567 546) to arrange an appointment.