5 Ways to Keep Christmas Merry
The holiday season is expressed and felt differently by each family member. While some "deck the halls," others just want to hibernate and wake up on New Year’s Day. These feelings can intensify when family members are struggling with child custody or marital issues. One person may resent having to share their child during the holidays. Another can be emotionally triggered by the least little thing.
Here are some tips on how to ease family tension during the holidays:
1. Give People Space
You may wonder why your ex-partner or spouse is short-tempered, won’t work with you or return calls. Maybe your child complains about getting yelled at during visitation with their other parent. Before reacting, remember this year has been especially tough for most folks and don’t take anything too personally. Creating space may mean pausing and taking a few breaths before replying to a nasty text message. Try being more understanding when a parent is late picking up or dropping off a child. Kindness goes a long way this time of year and certainly benefits children who are often stuck in the middle.
This may not be the best time to drop the bomb that you are moving out of the house, taking the kids and half the furniture and filing for divorce! Sometimes we feel so strongly to act that it is hard to settle down and think clearly. You can lose more in the long run if you act impulsively at the wrong time. That could cause a “fight or flight” reaction from your partner or spouse. An otherwise amicable divorce settlement may instead cost thousand of dollars in legal fees due to infighting triggered by impulsivity. If you think through things more carefully, you can choose the most appropriate time to broach the subject and work towards a win-win solution.
3. Share Time With the Kids
Parents who are separated or divorced often struggle with sharing children during the holidays. Remember that being kind and generous are reasons for the season. Be flexible to accommodate the other parent's holiday work schedule or change schedules so that out-of-town relatives can visit the children. Court orders can be modified to accommodate changes and special circumstances as long as both parties agree. If you want to change a court-ordered schedule, give the other parent as much notice as possible. Try asking nicely instead of demanding. Even if you did not get along when living together does not mean that you cannot co-parent in a positive, healthy way now. Along with making life easier it benefits the children to not seeing their parents argue or depressed.
4. Be Careful What You Post
If you are going through or thinking about a separation or divorce, be careful what you post on social media and how you communicate in texts, emails or voice mail. Anything remotely inappropriate is likely to be used against you by an opposing attorney at some point. Communicate with your ex-partner or spouse in a polite, professional and neutral tone. Most importantly, do not post pictures or comments that you would not want your grandmother to see! The best advice when going through separation, divorce or custody battles—don’t post anything at all.
5. Watch What You Say in Front of Children
Most court orders contain language prohibiting parents from talking about each other in front of the kids. Sometimes we forget about their innocence and sensitivity. Kids feel torn over leaving one parent behind when they go to the other’s house to celebrate. They just want everyone to have a "Merry Christmas." If you make a nasty comment about a gift from the other parent or question the child about who was at their house, it can make your child feel sad or uncomfortable. Be merry, stay positive and remember the old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!”