It’s holiday season, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most wonderful time of the year for all families. In fact, November and December loom like gray clouds for some — conjuring up feelings of loss, anxiety and disappointment.
For this month’s “Ask the Experts” column, we asked certified family law specialist Patrick Baghdaserians for a few tips on how divorced and separated families can best manage the holidays. He is managing partner of the Baghdaserians Law Group, a law firm in Pasadena that is dedicated to family law mediation and litigation.
How can divorced or separated parents best prepare for the holidays?
- Communicate (including written)
- Be reasonable
Co-parents should not leave holiday planning to the last minute. They must appreciate the fact that the children are in two households. Leaving things to the last minute or providing notice at the last minute opens up the floodgates for resentment and defiance.
Co-parents should memorialize planning and efforts in writing. I recommend using the OurFamilyWizard app. This helps maintain transparency and can later be used in court if someone acts inappropriately.
How should parents talk to their children as the holidays approach?
If the children are seeing a therapist, co-parents should broach the subject matter through therapy. If they don’t have a therapist, then I would provide notice to the children well in advance, so they don’t feel that things are being dropped on them last minute.
How can co-parents best navigate the stresses that are inherit during the holidays — family gatherings, differences in gift giving traditions, etc.
They can navigate the stress by being reasonable and considerate to the other side. This helps ease the tension and makes for a smoother transition and holiday. Also, putting aside differences and focusing on what is important is in the best interest of the child.
What do kids need the most from their parents during this time?
Stability, security and love.
Any other advice for successful co-parenting during the holidays?
Be festive! Put aside past issues and gripes. Focus on healing and promote the best interest of the children.
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