Holiday Advice for Divorced Parents
For divorced parents, parenting effectively can be confusing and complicated, even during the best of times. Around the holidays, we can probably all agree that parenting becomes even more difficult. Top it all off with a raging pandemic, and it is no wonder so many of the parents I work with in my family-focused practice, Solutions Northshore, have been asking for guidance as they prepare to navigate this uncharted holiday season.
Here are my co-parenting tips to help make your holiday peaceful, happy, and bright:
Get on the same parenting page.
It is important for both parents to communicate and coordinate their expectations for their children. Together, both parents should decide on the rules of engagement for the kids (general expectations, schedules, COVID safety rules, etc.) and clearly communicate these rules to them. Receiving consistent messages from both parents not only lets the kids know what is expected of them, it reduces their confusion and anxiety as well.
Continue to deliver a consistent message.
Parents need to work out any parenting differences behind the scenes, so they can present a united parenting front to their kids. Once the rules are established and discussed with the children, parents must enforce them consistently. This means divorced parents have to find a way to cooperate for the sake of what is in the best interest of the children. Ideally, they should compare notes on a weekly basis to make sure they stay consistent.
Agree on and share a holiday schedule ahead of time.
Come to an agreement now about when and where each parent will be spending time with the kids and then share the schedule with the kids. This way everyone will have clear expectations and your holidays will not be disrupted by arguments or unwanted surprises.
Check in with each other.
As parents, make a commitment to connect with each other regularly during the holiday season. Share how it went at your house and discuss how the kids are doing, any concerns you have, or adjustments you feel need to be made to the holiday plan. Remember, clear and direct communication reduces assumptions, reactions based on past experiences, and negative thinking.
Have fun with your kids.
This is especially important during the holidays, when you and your kids have more free time than usual. Having long conversations, playing games, baking – whatever you and your children enjoy doing together – will promote positive attachments between you and your children.
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