The holiday season is chaotic enough. Add in the drama of co-parenting (or in our case, NON co-parenting) and you have a ripe atmosphere for conflict.
Then there’s the custody agreement. The custody agreement should make holidays with your kids and stepkids a little easier, right? The tension can be just as bad as if there weren’t time parameters at all. Having to drop off your child by midnight on Christmas Eve, by noon on Christmas Day, or ANY time during the festivities can make the time together feel truncated and more like an appointment than quality time together.
Who struggles the most during this time? Our children. Imagine you are a six-year-old with divorced parents and essentially two homes. You love both of your parents and your stepparents. You want to be able to actually SAY how you love everyone in the stepfamily. That brings up some important Do’s and Don’ts for the holiday season.
DO for the sake of the kids:
- Help your kids pick out a present for other members of the stepfamily. Young children who can’t drive or make their own money cannot buy presents on their own for mom, dad, stepmom, or stepdad. Use common sense and help them buy a present for other family members. Put your ego and any negative feelings aside. This isn’t about YOU. The big plus? The kids will remember you being the bigger person at Christmas, and they will be very grateful adults.
- Show appreciation and gratitude when your child comes home with extra gifts. Don’t unleash drama in front of the children when the stepmom, stepdad, mom, dad, cat, dog, etc. buys your child a gift. Again, this isn’t about you. Be an adult. Be happy that someone loves your child and took the time to buy them a present. Children can’t have too much love.
- Be flexible (if possible) with drop-off and pick-up times. Yes, the times stated in the divorce/custody decree should be adhered to. However, life happens. If your co-parenter is running a bit behind and makes the effort to tell you that, be kind. YOU might need the extra time in the future as well.
- Speak to the co-parenter with civility. Your kids are observing how conflict is handled. Be a good example.
DON’T for the sake of the kids:
- Please don’t ever, under circumstances, EVER bad mouth the co-parenter in front of the children. When you bad mouth the other parent you also are badmouthing one half of your child. At one time you thought enough of your ex to have offspring with them. Don’t throw shade in front of the kids. It’s just plain hateful.
- Don’t make your kids open presents from the other co-parenters alone, in a different room, outside, etc. Be mature and be happy for the love expressed. Again, be grateful that your child is loved!
- Don’t buy gifts for your child that are passive-aggressively sending a message of spite to the other household. Kids are smart, and they see right thru it.
- Please allow your child uninterrupted time with the co-parenter. There’s no need to call and/or text unnecessarily. Your child will remain happy and balanced when they don’t feel like they have to “report” back to you while they are spending time at the other household.
Thankfully, Santa understands that many children in the world do not live in “traditional” families and households. He loves all the kids regardless of where (or who) they live with.
And most importantly, Jesus loves all of us while knowing the shortcomings of our minds and hearts. He also knows we are capable of incredible love, forgiveness and acceptance. Let’s show that love, forgiveness, and acceptance to EVERYONE. Do it for the kids. 🙂