Christmas is a time of celebration, right? It’s no secret that challenges can be bountiful during the holidays for the modern family but if you are willing to leave the bitterness behind and put forth a little extra effort, you can cope and survive through each holiday season with the co-parent(s) in your modern family. Of course accomplishing this is no easy task but once you get there, the reward is definitely worth the effort. Not to mention, the most important outcome is when you get to watch and enjoy the happiness of your children that Christmas brings out in all of them. In every family there are challenges, but meeting in the middle instead of power struggling with your co-parent is one way to resolve unnecessary conflict. I cannot emphasize enough that in order to avoid conflict, you need to plan ahead. For example, if you and your co-parent split Christmas Day, don’t wait until the last minute or the day before to decide when your child will share time with his/her other parent and then arbitrarily think that your plan is going to sit well with your co-parent. On the other hand, if you are the non-custodial parent and you know that there is a special tradition that the custodial parent and your child enjoys every year together – do your best to work around it — it’s called teamwork. For those of you that absolutely find your panties in a bunch every holiday over the same issues, or if you just happen to work best by the sticking to the court order, then by all means that is always the safest way to navigate the holidays. Stick to the court order!
In addition to the many challenges that divorced parents face during the holiday season, remarried couples also have their fair share. Competition over which biological set of children in the house receives the most can be a factor. Who’s going to buy what is another. Some couples choose to combine their finances and allot a certain amount for each kid no matter who they biologically belong to. Others choose to keep things separate by buying Christmas gifts for their respective children with their ex-spouses (the biological parents).
Scheduling can also present a problem for the remarried couple, especially when they both come into the marriage with children. Detailing the arrangements regarding what time and how much each set of children will spend with their non-custodial parents, making time for you all to spend together as a newly formed family and visiting both sets of in-laws and/or extended family members can often times seem like an extreme sport. During this time of year it’s important to maintain realistic expectations, realizing that stepfamilies cannot operate as first families do. While it’s important that you make time to gel as a stepfamily, it’s not crucial that you do so on Christmas day. Many stepfamilies elect to spend the day before or after Christmas opening a few presents and developing new family traditions together. It all depends on what works for your unique family situation and every modern family is indeed unique.
Coping through this season with your co-parent and/or remarried spouse isn’t as hard as it seems if you both make the effort to show mutual respect, give and take a little on both sides and take into consideration each others’ feelings in order to enjoy the wonder and happiness of Christmas.
What about you BFSO readers? What are some of the unique challenges that you face with your ex-spouse and/or spouse during the Christmas season? How do you deal with those challenges?
Kela and Diane