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Avoiding co-parenting disputes during the holiday season

For an unhappily wed individual, divorce ushers in many changes and signals numerous new opportunities. No longer forced to live in a tension-filled home with one’s ex, an individual is free to make his or her own decisions about how to live life and build a happier future. For couples with no children, once a settlement is reached and signed, divorce can truly offer a clean break from an ex-spouse. For divorced parents, however, their lives will forever be linked as they attempt to successfully co-parent.

While there are many times when divorce truly is the best option for parents and children alike, that’s not to say that it it won't, at times, be difficult for everyone involved. For many divorced families the holidays are a particularly hectic and challenging time. For divorced parents, while it may be impossible to avoid all conflicts, it’s important to plan ahead, communicate clearly and be willing to compromise.

As any divorced parent who is able to effectively co-parent will attest, communication is a key component to the equation. Parents who continue to allow their anger and resentment to dominate how they interact with an ex about parenting matters will likely always struggle with co-parenting issues. However, parents who are able to set aside their own personal feelings towards an ex-spouse and put their children’s best interests first are typically able to develop healthy co-parenting relationships that make everyone’s lives much easier and less stressful.

To ensure for the latter, communicating with an ex-spouse well in advance of the impending holiday season is extremely important. This is true even in cases where a holiday schedule has already been determined by a custody and visitation agreement. Ensuring that both parents are clear about when they will have the kids and all related pick-up and drop-off times helps prevent any confusion or problems that may result due to miscommunication.

In addition to proactive, clear and frequent communication; co-parents should also be prepared and willing to compromise a bit on holiday scheduling matters. For any family, the holidays can be chaotic as time is typically spent with extended family. When divorce enters into the equation, that many more schedules must be coordinated and accommodated.

This and every holiday season, spending and enjoying time with family and friends is the most important thing. Co-parents, who keep this in mind, can provide their children the best gift of all.

Source: The Huffington Post, “8 Tips to Make Holiday Parenting Time Less Stressful,” Daniel Clement, Nov. 5, 2015

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