New Jersey parents headed for their first winter after a divorce or separation may be concerned about the logistics and emotions involved in navigating the holidays with a new family dynamic. There is no need to face the season with trepidation; even though all families are unique, there are some simple guidelines recommended by experts that can make this time flow much easier for children and parents.
The first key in any divided family situation is for the adults to focus on the most important thing: the children's best interests. If the parties can agree that the children's mental health and happiness is paramount to the airing of grievances or their own hurt feelings, almost everything else falls in line. The second key factor is an acknowledgment in word and deed that both parents are essential to a child's well-being, so fostering stable relationships with each should be a priority during holidays. If possible, traditions from each branch of a child's family tree should be honored.
Developing a clear plan that sets out a schedule over the holiday season is imperative to success. Flexibility will be required by both parents in order to meet the objectives, but when parents put kids first and understand that there is no competition between them, the goal of a peaceful and happy holiday season can be achieved. When children return from holiday activities with the other side of their family, parents should refrain from asking too many questions and allow them to share at their own pace and as they see fit. Learning to let go of control is an essential part of co-parenting.
Divorce and child custody issues are emotional, and the holidays can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. Consulting a qualified family law attorney may provide parents with the peace of mind that comes with knowing how to navigate a challenging situation and ensure the best possible result for the children involved.