First of all, although a child custody order may lay out which parent has custody of the child on a particular holiday, it is important for both parents to come together, along with any new spouses, to discuss their upcoming holiday plans in a neutral manner. It is important to put the needs of the children first, and for all parties to be on the same page about what will be celebrated, where, when and with whom. If the children are old enough, it may be beneficial to include them in these conversations.
In addition, parents should try to plan some one-on-one parenting time with their children during the holidays. Although the holiday season can be hectic, having some quality time with each parent can be very important to children, who still may be reeling from the divorce. Reaching out to other important people in a child’s life, such as relatives and friends, can also help avoid feelings of isolation during the holidays.
Finally, it may help to let your child be in charge of a meaningful holiday ritual. For example, they could be in charge of decorating the Christmas tree, wrapping presents or taking part in the preparation of the holiday meal. This may help children feel a sense of control in their lives.
As this shows, no matter what a family’s child custody situation is, there are ways to keep the holidays a time of happy memories for the child. No child should be made to feel caught between two sparring parents during this time. Instead, parents need to focus their attention on providing their child with a happy and healthy environment in which to grow.