The fall/winter holiday season is the craziest time of year. And the chaos is magnified in families of divorce. With all the factors of schedules, preferences and work between two families, deciding who gets the kids for the holidays can be difficult. Kids can’t be split in half, so follow some simple rules to keep everyone happy when decided who gets the kids on the holidays in families of divorce.
Follow the Custody Agreement
Oftentimes the legal documents have the final say. Custody agreements usually specify which parents gets the kids on which holidays. Usually they are alternated every other year (e.g., 2016– mom; 2017– dad; etc.). Sometimes the kids are always with a particular parent for a specific holiday.
In contentious divorces it’s almost always better to stick to the custody agreement. Changes and stressful communication can lead to increased conflict. But, there can be flexibility and leeway when both parents are able to focus on doing what’s best for the kids. If that describes your situation most of the time, here are some ideas for helping everyone get some together time for the holidays.
On those rare occasions where everyone still genuinely gets along consider a meal where both parents, and possibly their extended families, all contribute and eat together. This way no one has to make the choice of who gets the kids. Of course this requires space and coordination, but it’s a nice option in amicable divorces to allow kids to be with everyone at once.
If a big family/former-family meal isn’t possible, but parents live fairly close to each other, have one parent plan a holiday lunch and the other plan a holiday dinner. It’s a great way for kids to see both parents, as well as other relatives on a special holiday. If each of you would prefer to have a holiday dinner instead of lunch consider switching off who does which meal every other year.
When distance is a factor, plan a visit with the other parent as close to a holiday as possible. If your kids are with you this year for a holiday and your ex-spouse’s weekend isn’t for another two weeks, try and work out a way with them to see the kids earlier so they can celebrate together.
Sometimes it simply isn’t possible for kids to see both parents on or near a holiday because of distance, work schedules, etc. A FaceTime or Skype call with the other parent on a holiday is a great way to feel like being together. Have the video chat during the holiday meal so your kid feels like he’s eating with the other parent, too!
If you’re a family of divorce the best is not to chose who gets the kids on the holidays. But if you have to remember it’s the kids who are important. If you make it easy for them, it’s easy for you.
How do you decide who gets the kids on the holidays?