- Planning for the Holidays
- Introducing new Partners and Family Members
- Keep the Past in the Past
Familial separations and divorce are unfortunately a part of life for many families. During which feelings of confusion, animosity, and more can arise in partners, families as well as children. We are a sum of our experiences! More importantly, we are the product of our social and emotional exposures, be they positive or negative.
Co-Parenting Tips For Blended Families During The Holidays
This is why effective co-parenting is crucial to the emotional growth of children. Children learn from the primary caregivers in their homes. This goes double for children where co-parenting is concerned. Holidays can be a culmination of stress as families adjust to being separated, or as new spouses enter the scene. Here are a few Social-Emotional Learning tips to bridge the gap for blended families and ensure that the transition is a bit easier for all.
Try To Be On The Same Page
This can be a difficult one. Particularly if the wounds of separation are fresh. However, To co-parent effectively, each parent (and stepparent, where applicable) should be on the same page concerning ground rules. They must ensure that one home-setting does not contradict the other. This will foster a positive, consistent value system for children who are being co-parented.
This value system will not only help to create well-rounded adult children, but it also needs to be sustained after children reach adulthood. Adult children of divorce need to be made aware that the bonds and underlying rules of engagement with parents should not change because of a new dynamic or separation. Emotional growth is when we learn how to interact and understand our emotions at every stage of development. Coparents need to model teamwork throughout their children’s lives. In this way, children will be able to see the importance of managing social and emotional impulses in a healthy manner.
Planning Matters – Keep Communication Solely About The Kids
Try to hash out a holiday plan as early in the year, each year, or an ongoing one if possible. Be willing to be flexible and alternate dates year to year so that each parent has a wealth of memories with the child and vice versa. For instance this year the child may spend Thanksgiving with Dad and his family and Christmas with mom and her family. Next year Mom gets Thanksgiving and dad gets Christmas.
If planning seems to lead to arguments then communication between co-parents should be about the child/children only. The amount of communication between co-parents for holiday planning should be solely to inform the other parent about the location and attendees of the vacation. The parent who is hosting the children for that particular holiday should inform the other parent about all necessary information about the children including people involved, places they will be going, and things they will be doing.
Do not discuss differences in front of the child/children. Any disputes should be settled away from them. Additionally, avoid disputes with step-parents if the separation is in the remarriage and step-parent’s phase.
Avoid Attempting To Control The Other Parents Plans
Avoid dictating rules for how the other co-parent should spend their holiday with the child. If your lifestyles matched and ideas for fun matched then you would still be together. However, you want your child to have quality time with each parent.
Introduce New Partners & Blended Family Members Delicately
Try to introduce changes to children gradually. No matter the age when parents separate it can be a jarring experience. Especially if one or both of the parents have moved in within their love lives. For the first holiday consider putting the child’s needs first.
If new significant others are a part of the situation ensure that:
1) the co-parent knows they will be around.
2) Discuss it with your child before throwing them into a situation where emotionally they might not be comfortable yet.
3) Limit it to as few people as possible. For instance, try to not take your child on a huge trip with the new significant other’s family for their first holiday split from their normal family unit.
If you are the new partner entering a blended family situation it’s important to take the time to observe the dynamics of the existing family structure and become aware of who the dominant players are. You will find your place within the family structure so there I no need to force it or have overwhelming stress about it.
The emphasis should be on the well-being of the child/children and not what either parent can get out of the interaction. In many split homes or co-parenting situations, there are still underlying tensions, anger, and even custody battles brewing. Do not use the circumstances to gain favor, nor deepen the divide that led to the separation.
Unoffensive Vacation Planning & Contact Points
Vacation planning should start with three words: Location, location, location! Coparents must ensure that they are planning for and choosing vacation locations that are children-friendly with a means of communication should the parent who is not hosting the children need to be reached. Additionally, the vacation should be in a place that does not offend the values or sensibilities of the non-hosting co-parent.
Keep The Past In The Past
Do not bring up toxicity from the past. Anything toxic that happened prior to the separation should be left in the past. When children hear toxic things that led to a separation, they might become confused and take the blame for why the separation occurred. Separation is hard on all members of a family, even pets. If the past must be brought up, try to talk about positive things, only. There is a time and place for those emotions and that place is not the holidays, it can be discussed in therapy or family counseling.
Do Not Use Children As Pawns During The Holidays
There are several stages of co-parenting from pre-separation to divorce to remarriage with step-parents. Depending on the stage, and how the marriage became terminal, emotions might be harder to control. Care must be taken to not use the child/children to be spiteful towards neither the ex nor the step-parents.
It’s Ok To Spend The Holiday Together!
There is no rule saying that just because you are co-parenting, divorced, or even remarried that you can not still spend the holidays altogether. Some of the most beautiful families are blended families. It is wonderful when a child can see that their parents are not together but can still spend the holidays together.