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Holiday Visitation Time: Let's Make It All About the Kids

When we remember those great holiday times we had as children, we're usually thinking of fun family games, the thrill of presents, the delicious family recipes -- whatever was unique and special about our family traditions.

When looking back over their childhoods, many children of divorce have one pretty rotten memory in common: "Christmas in the car."

As we rush toward the holiday season, take a moment to consider how you're going to split up holiday visitation with the other parent of your children. Now is not the time to focus on your own desire to have special holiday time with your kids -- it's time to focus on the best interest of your children.

Shared Parenting Challenges During the Holidays and How to Overcome Them

When you were getting divorced, you probably worked out a child custody and visitation arrangement that you thought was fair. Now that you're dealing with the reality of dividing up treasured holiday and vacation times, you may find yourself dealing with a lot of unexpected and emotional issues.

You may be wondering how you'll maintain those precious family traditions. What can you expect the other parent to do or not do? How do you deal with the grandparents' rights -- especially if you have a blended family?

Decisions about where the kids will spend the holidays and how long they'll spend with each parent can easily turn into a battle. Even if it doesn't develop into a full-blown war, you may feel resentful, guilty, or like you're being pulled in two directions. And if you're feeling guilty and resentful, imagine what your kids are feeling.

Slow down and take a breath. Remember: It's all about the kids.

Take stock of why holidays are important to you, and what you want your kids to get out of them. Then make your visitation plan accordingly.

Do you treasure your memories of spending Thanksgiving day in the kitchen making delicious family favorites? Then make sure your kids get to do that -- either at your house or your ex's. Don't make them spend their time in the car.

Did you hang your stockings on Christmas Eve and wake up early the next morning to race downstairs to see what Santa brought you? Then don't divide the holiday up into Christmas Eve at Mom's house and Christmas Day at Dad's.

You may miss out on some things you wanted to do with your children. The division of holiday time may be uneven, and you may feel slighted. But remember -- it's for the kids. If you can, it's time to give a little. In the long run, you'll be glad you did.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Splitting Up The Holidays? It's All About The Kids," Jennifer Cullen, November 16, 2010

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