It can be a challenge splitting shared time between co-parents post-divorce.
This intensifies during the holiday season, with making sure both parents get to have celebrations with their children.
Parents may need outside help in drawing up a fair schedule or thinking up creative solutions. A divorce coach or mediator can help determine which days or time period on the actual holiday is more important to each parent.
This makes it easier to let go, yet have the kids when you want them the most.
The holiday season becomes a juggling act when the children are now adults. The co-parents are no longer able to stick to a schedule once the children leave home. This can be tricky and parents may lay a guilt trip on their offspring.
I have seen this when dealing with families after divorce. It is easy to fall into the trap of “You know we always have our big dinner on Christmas Eve. Why are you going over to your father’s then? Can’t you go over Christmas Evening instead?” The adult son or daughter now has to deal with guilt or with disappointing one parent.
One friend takes her 45-year-old son for an early turkey lunch on a certain holiday. Each year she gets angry at her ex-husband for inviting their son over to his house at 1 pm for a lavish turkey dinner.
She claims her former spouse is doing this on purpose to get back at her. In reality, it is probably when the step-mum wants to serve it. The son is caught in the middle.
Having a conversation with adult offspring way before the holiday season is productive. Say, “If possible, I’d love to have you over for supper on Christmas Eve. We can make it early – so you can get over to your dad’s for a nightcap and festivities.”
I advised my friend to take her son out for brunch instead of an early turkey dinner. I suggested a nice French restaurant which is open on holidays. This way, her son does not have to stuff himself with turkey for two meals back to back. She felt better with this new plan.
When adult offspring get married, then there is another set of parents in the mix. Your son or daughter not only has to split their time between both of you, but also with their in-laws.
Again, having a discussion about holidays way ahead of time can lessen feeling left out. Perhaps you can join in with the in-laws celebrations, if on friendly terms.
Express any disappointment to your friends and not to your kids. I will be going to a film at 1 pm with my friend, on the holiday when her adult son will be feasting on turkey at his dad and step-mum’s house. Now she feels better and will not be sitting around moping. The son knows she will be doing a fun activity also.
The key to getting through the holiday season happily, is by having a dialogue. Discuss expectations and hopes to see how they match up with your children’s. Determine what is important to you both and how you can get to celebrate together.
Flexibility helps when your adult offspring is overbooked during the holidays. You get to fill in any time gaps. Creativity is another key to jointly coming up with solutions which work. Think outside the box.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.