Looking for divorce advice when the holiday season comes around is understandable – the holidays can be trying even at the best of times. When you’re going through a divorce, the end of the year can seem like a massive hurdle, as it’s a time when everyone else seems to have a solid family. This isn’t necessarily true, of course; only about half of all marriages survive indefinitely, and not all of those are happy.
Statistics aside, this blog post will go through some simple tips for putting your kids first when you’ve just split with your spouse.
This one is especially important if your kids are younger. As adults, parents need to be willing to make sacrifices for their family. Expecting children to make sacrifices is unreasonable, and puts unnecessary stress on a family, so you will need to compromise even when you may not want to. You might have to give up your own time or do something you otherwise wouldn’t want to do. However, it’s important to make these compromises, and it’s even more important to compromise without telling your children. Making children feel guilty undermines the gesture and will shake their confidence for years to come.
In a similar vein, it’s crucial that you avoid forcing children into spending time with you over your ex-spouse. Rather than trying to create a perfect holiday situation, your main goal should be avoiding a bad one, and conflict between parents constitutes a bad situation for children. Whatever it takes to avoid a squabble will be your best course of action.
Therefore, if this means compromising on custody for a few days, so be it. Imagine a situation in which you and your ex-spouse are at odds over who gets the kids on which parts of the holidays. If you think there’s a danger of the fight becoming drawn out, it’s often best to concede. Let your ex have the kids for a particular day or period this year on the condition that you get them next year. Think carefully about turning these issues into a legal battle at this time of year; that may cause more turmoil for the children. Sometimes waiting until after the holidays for legal assistance or action can save everyone the stress of rushing to resolve everything before the end of the year.
If you celebrate the holidays with gift-giving, it’s a great idea to work together with your ex on your children’s presents. This way, it won’t turn into a competition. The important thing is to show your kids you care, and no matter how old they are, they will appreciate your teamwork – which is, itself, a valuable gift to them. You may even want to encourage and help your kids get a present for their other parent. This can help your kids understand that the divorce was a decision made between the adults in the family, and both of you still care about the children regardless of what’s happening in your relationship.
Some couples are able to come back together for the holidays to celebrate with their kids, but for others, this may not be the best idea. If you can, by all means, celebrate together, but it’s not advisable to force yourself together in an effort to pretend like nothing has changed between partners for the benefit of your kids. Even very young children have the insight to tell things are off, and it will just end up confusing them, even if things remain civil throughout. Thinking critically about your relationship is key.
Celebrating the holidays with your kids means you should be focused on what they need. Many parents assume this means they can simply ask their children about which parent they’d rather spend the holidays with. This is probably a good idea for older kids, but with younger children, you should be making the often tougher but more rational decisions. Asking pre-teens to make hard decisions will put them through unnecessary stress.
Very young kids – pre-school age and below – are generally in tune with the emotional landscape of any situation. You should divide time according to what feels fair according to them and for each parent. This may mean time isn’t split evenly. School age kids can think more literally, and will typically understand when time between parents is split 50/50. Teenagers have the capacity to handle abstract decisions, and their views should be respected.
If you’re going through a tough time dealing with your divorce, having a good family and divorce lawyer able to focus on working towards solutions, can make all the difference. To find out more, contact Watts McCray today – Australia’s leading family law firm.