We all have a lot of stresses and difficult situations to process these days. Just within the past year, we have witnessed politicians behave less than civilly, unfathomable terrorist activity in the United States and abroad, and highly successful people who are supposed to be role models being charged with unspeakable crimes and acts. All of these headlines are difficult for adults to fully comprehend, just imagine what our youth are thinking!

With the holiday season upon us, it is truly time to come together as family and within our communities to demonstrate to our youth what it means to be respectful, honorable, and civil human beings. People don’t often have the same beliefs, morals, or values…and that is what makes our country great. We need to show our children that just because we don’t agree about certain things, does not mean we cannot work together toward a common goal or be respectful of one another. This is vitally important for families that are raising children in separate or divorced homes. What a wonderful gift to give children that are sharing their time between two homes that their parents love them enough to put their differences aside to create a positive and wonderful holiday season!!!

Simply because two adults are not good partners or married persons, does not mean that those same individuals can’t be successful co-parents. It is important to differences aside and work together toward making this holiday season peaceful, harmonious, and wonderful for our children and families. Here are some ways to make that happen:

1) Be Flexible and Open Minded: Most often life and family schedules do not always conform with the Final Decree of Divorce that was signed by the Court a few years ago. If you can trust your child’s other parent to honor an agreement, and he/she has relatives from out of town that are coming in and leaving during your scheduled period of possession, work with them to allow your child the opportunity to see that relative (so long as it doesn’t interfere with your plans). Keep an open mind to switch days, or trade a weekend so that your child has the chance to make holiday memories with both families. Make sure to memorialize that agreement in writing and it has an electronic signature or actual autograph by both parents.

2) Communicate with the Other Parent: If possible, talk to your child’s other parent and coordinate gifts so that you don’t duplicate, and you are on the same page with the amount of money or type of gifts you are comfortable giving your child. Listen to one another and try to come to a consensus about, for example, whether or not an iPhone X is appropriate for your three-year-old (it’s not).

3) Focus on Giving: If appropriate, encourage your child to do something nice for the other parent. Encourage your child to make a nice card for the other parent, write a top ten list of the things that they like about them, and maybe offer one of those items. Your child is made up of fifty percent of you and fifty percent of the other parent, they need to hear that you are okay with them having a good relationship with that other parent.

4) Be Kind to Yourself: Co-parenting and sharing the holidays is not always easy. Be gentle to yourself and forgiving if it does not go exactly as planned. Take care of you in the process.

These are difficult times, but we as adults can behave in ways that model civility and kindness to our children. The holiday season is a great time to start or continue to co-parent in such a way.

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.