A good plan is like a road map, and although members of families coping with divorce may be traveling somewhat different routes, it is possible to find joy during the holiday season if parents think ahead and carefully plan ways to anticipate and avoid unwelcome detours.
To help develop such a plan, an attorney skilled in family and divorce law can work with parents to chart the best route for all concerned, since both parents and children benefit from knowing in advance how the holidays will be celebrated. Transitions are difficult for everyone, including the children, but a fair plan will allow everyone to take advantage of time together and to make the best of it. When developing the plan, parents should consider the following:
Be creative: Consider new traditions.
Yes, things will be different. “Different” is hard but it doesn’t have to be bad. Although there is only one Thanksgiving day, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the holiday, just do it on a different day. Giving thanks certainly isn’t limited to one day a year, and the spirit of hope and generosity is not confined to Christmas.
Develop a budget.
Be sure your plan includes a realistic budget based the experience of past years. Remember that while gifts are important, the best gift you can give your children is the time you spend together.
Pay attention to your emotions.
Resist the urge to allow past grievances to cloud the potential for enjoying happy times. Put unresolved issues on hold and let yourselves savor the moment.
Focus on finding joy in the holidays.
When you know that your children will be away, plan ahead to be with friends or other family members so you are not alone on holidays.
In short, careful planning enables you to enjoy the pleasures of the holidays. These occasions don’t sneak up on us, yet even at Christmas time it is not uncommon to see family lawyers and their clients standing before a judge on December 23rd because of poor planning. Emotional turmoil like that can be prevented if divorcing parents and their attorneys are proactive and prepare for the holidays. The earlier this is done, the better, and now is a good time to begin.