Co-parenting is not an easy endeavor. And co-parenting at the holidays can be a particularly stressful process. Thankfully, there are tools you can utilize in order to make holiday co-parenting less anxiety-inducing. Whether you are currently navigating the divorce process or you have been split from your child’s other parent for some time, you can use the act of creating a holiday parenting plan to advance your child’s best interests and make the holidays jollier for everyone involved.
Your Child’s Best Interests
When constructing a holiday parenting plan, it is important to keep your child’s best interest at the forefront of your mind. It can be understandably tempting to allow your frustrations with your co-parent or your personal wishes for the holiday season to drive your decision-making. However, the holiday time is uniquely important for children. They are developing in ways that make the holiday season consequential for a number of reasons. When in doubt? Do what you believe is best for your child and his or her development. If you feel yourself slipping into other motivations, it can be helpful to have a picture of your child in front of you while making plans.
Expectations, Boundaries and Flexibility
Children tend to feel most secure when they know what to expect. As a result, it is generally beneficial to have holiday plans made well in advance. Whether you and your co-parent plan to split the holiday season or trade off years that you will have primary holiday placement of your child, expectations should be as clear as possible. You and your co-parent should also make every effort to make sure that your child’s expectations are met.
With that said however, flexibility is often important at this time of year. When possible, try to extend the kinds of courtesies you would appreciate to your co-parent. For example, if your co-parent experiences the death of a close friend and needs to change plans in order to attend the funeral, it may be kind to help accommodate this switch. Of course, if your co-parent consistently switches plans or takes advantage of your generosity, it may help to speak with your attorney about setting some reasonable boundaries and consequences related to this behavior. If you and your child cannot count on your co-parent to be reasonable at the holidays, some interventions may be required.
Parenting Plan Guidance Is Available
If you would like assistance crafting a holiday-related parenting plan or you have questions about constructing this important set of expectations, please do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced family law attorney. The holiday season is often an important time of year for children, not only because it can be a source of magic when they are young but also because it helps to set the stage for how they view celebrations, family and memory-making as they grow. It is therefore critically important for co-parents to find ways to put their children’s best interests first during this time of year. An experienced family law attorney, like a family lawyer in Lake Forest, IL from Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC, may be able to help you achieve that noble goal as efficiently and effectively as possible.