Ahhh…it’s the holiday season; Christmas is here and it’s the time for family cheer!
However, if you’re divorced and sharing or co-parenting your children with your former spouse, things can be a little awkward. For many divorced couples who are co-parenting children, that means it’s the season of stressful days and uncomfortable encounters with the former spouse and their family.
You might be surprised to learn that we here at DDLaw have a few good reasons to consider doing Christmas together with your former spouse and your kids. In fact, there’s actually many benefits to doing so!
So if you’re looking for better ways to handle co-parenting with your former spouse and the holiday season together – or maybe you just had a particularly bad holiday get together and are looking for a better way to handle next year – you can use these tips and considerations to decide whether you should do Christmas together as divorced parents or not.
Some Reasons Parents SHOULD Spend the Christmas Together
While it might seem strange or awkward, divorced couples do have the ability to stay friends (or at least be civil to each other for the sake of their children) and are able to continue celebrating Christmas and other holidays together.
This could be you if it feels natural, and if you and your ex have established boundaries and a co-parenting plan.
If you are considering doing Christmas together, but you’re not sure, there are many benefits to doing so:
- Both parents get to see the child on the actual holiday.
- There are no disputes over transfer times or having equal time.
- Having both parents together may make the child feel very happy.
- You continue to make family memories together.
- You solidify the fact that you are and will always be a family.
This approach does not work for every family. You and your co-parent must be able to spend time together without fighting or creating tension. One parent must feel comfortable welcoming the other into their home. This approach can be very useful for young children in the years immediately after a divorce. As your children get older and as your lives change, you may find that other arrangements suit everyone better. If one of you remarries or has other children, this tradition could become uncomfortable or unworkable.
Reasons Parents Should NOT Spend Christmas Together
As you decide how you’re going to spend the holidays this year, consider these reasons for NOT spending them together.
- There are still some hurt feelings. From that, old arguments — even a full on fight — can emerge. Nobody wants that during the holidays.
- It gives kids false hope. They can see you two together again and hope things will get back to “normal.” It may prompt the question, “Are you guys getting back together?” You don’t want to provoke that.
- The risk of ruining precious holidays. Kids grow up so fast, and there are only so many times they get to be a kid for the holidays.
Divorced Holiday Ideas
Don’t be upset if you can’t do Christmas together. If you know deep down it’s not going to work, don’t force it.
It’s important to remember that you are not a failure because you could not keep your holiday tradition or make something unrealistic work. In fact, you’re only improving the lives of you and your family by making a mature decision.
Your kids may be upset by this, but all you can do is explain the situation calmly and appropriately to them. This outcome is better than the alternative.
There are many ways to do the holidays separately. One of these could become your new holiday tradition and foster happiness rather than stress around the holidays:
Many kids of divorce are happy to celebrate Christmas Eve at one parent’s house and Christmas Day at the other’s. You and your co-parent could each pick one, or you could alternate year-by-year who gets which day.
You could even double other holidays, such as birthdays, Easter, or Thanksgiving.
If doubling-up on holidays is too much or too impractical for your family, then consider alternating years. You can have the kids one year and the other parent has them the next. Many divorced couples find alternating Christmas year-by-year to be a fair and effective compromise.
Pick a Holiday
You could also create new family traditions by picking holidays and sticking to them. Maybe you’ve always preferred Thanksgiving to Christmas, or maybe you can establish a new holiday tradition on a day that you never used to celebrate as much. You and the other parent can establish set holidays that you celebrate with the kids and the other spends however else they like.
If you both really value having the kids on Christmas Day, splitting the day up might work for you. One parent can have the kids on Christmas morning, and then the other for Christmas dinner. If you live close to your kids’ other parent, this option could be ideal for you.
Should YOU Do Christmas Together As Divorced Parents?
We can’t tell you in a blog post whether you should or shouldn’t do Christmas together as divorced parents. Ultimately, as in every family and every case, you and your ex must make these decisions for yourselves. What you should consider when making this decision is what is best for your child or children given your particular circumstances.
If you’re struggling to make these types of decisions with your ex, you may benefit from mediation sessions.
If you are in need of a family lawyer to help you settle a dispute, you can contact the family lawyers here at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group by calling one of our offices or filling out our contact form.