by Michael L. Duncan, Esq.
Duncan Trial & Family Law
11512 Lake Mead Ave., Suite 301
Jacksonville, FL 32256
If you are divorced with children, then you are never completely separated from your ex. This is because you and your ex are connected through your children and will be throughout life. And, irrespective of what you think about your former partner, you have a job to do, which is to do the best job you can in raising your children.
Thanksgiving is almost here, and the Christmas and New Year holiday season is right around the corner. These holidays are very special for many people and their families, and dealing with them during and after divorce can be challenging. Here are my top tips for helping your children have the best holiday season possible despite your divorce:
1. GET IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON - The holiday season is a time for being thankful, for giving, and for new beginnings. Teach your children to truly appreciate Thanksgiving and be grateful for the love you share with them. You can show them how to appreciate the Christmas season by being giving to others and each other. And, through your example, you can show them how the New Year can be one of healthy, fresh starts.
2. COMMUNICATE & COORDINATE: Communicate and coordinate with your children's other parent. Look, it is understandable if you find this to be a challenge. But a brief email, text message, or conversation can help make certain that everyone’s plans for the holidays work out well. Work out exactly where and with whom your children will be during what times, and when, where, and how exchanges will occur. Timely and properly detailed communications in advance can help to avoid frustration and confusion for you, your children’s other parent, and your children. A few minutes now can spare you days, weeks or months of frustration and anger (not to mention attorney’s fees) down the road.
3. TIME & ATTENTION ARE THE GREATEST GIFTS: Being able to lavish gifts upon our children can feel great. But always remember that love means far more than money and material things. Your love, time, attention, and emotional support are much more important to your children than any material possessions.
4. PLAN IN ADVANCE FOR NEXT YEAR: Avoid last-minute juggling of schedules and the agony of 11th-hour negotiations in years to come and set up a plan for next year now if possible. Even if you simply begin the dialogue with your ex now, starting the conversation now can save you a lot of stress later. And, begin planning now with your own extended family to help make this process even easier. Everyone will be happier knowing what is coming, and you can avoid conflict for next year’s holidays.
5. ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN TRADITIONS WITH YOUR CHILDREN: Holiday traditions are an important way in which we build memories that can last a lifetime. Whether it is the continuation of past rituals, or creating new ones, these traditions can give your children something to look forward to as they spend time with you during the upcoming holiday season.
6. ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO ENJOY TIME WITH YOUR EX: Encourage your children to enjoy their time with their other parent – no matter your feelings about your ex, put your children first. Your children will enjoy the greatest stability when they can feel free to enjoy enriching relationships with each of their parents.
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