Who Gets The Kids For The Holidays?

Easter

With Easter, Orthodox Easter and Passover Holidays coming, it can be stressful enough as it is for any family. Who is hosting which dinner, lunch or brunch? Who to invite? Which invitations to accept, without offending others?

Add to this mix being separated or divorced and needing to decide “Who gets the kids?”

For many separated parents, that decision is made through the Parenting Plan or Separation Agreement process. Some parents figure it out on a per-holiday basis.

And even when there seems to be a decision made, it isn’t always easy for the other parent not to be with their child or children, when it’s not “their turn.”

Here are some ideas to consider that have worked for me and for clients I have supported:

  1. Alternate year agreement. One way to alternate years is to say, “Parent A gets the children for Easter/Passover (etc) on the odd-numbered years, while Parent B gets the children on the even-numbered years” Usually this will be written up in an agreement, (which helps to remember from year-to-year).
  2. Holidays with the Parent who the child doesn’t live with. Sometimes children live with one parent (possibly in a different city) full time. In such a case it can work to have the child spend the holiday period with the other parent. Depending on the relationship and willingness between the parents, the parent living away from the child may travel in and spend the holiday with their child together with the other parent.
  3. Holidays All Together. Depending on the willingness of the parents, it may work to have the holidays be a time to spend together. It’s not about the parents “being together.” It’s about the children having a meaningful and memorable holiday. I have had the privilege of my own parents rising above their past differences to be at the same holiday table with me and my family.
  4. Multi-Ethnic Family. You may be in a formerly mixed marriage situation, which means you don’t share the same holidays. This can work out well when the holidays don’t land on the same dates! What happens when they DO land on the same dates? Either you could apply the “alternate year” approach where by one parent gets them this year and next time a holiday lands on the same date, the other parent gets the kids. Or, there may be room to compromise by splitting the day or days themselves. For example, this year the first two days of Passover coincides with Catholic/Christian Easter Weekend. Kids could be with the Jewish parent Friday and Saturday and with the Christian or Catholic parent on Sunday and Monday.

Passover SederThese are just some scenarios and some ideas. You may have others.

And, the key is to make the decision and then stick to it, ideally letting go of any resentments and upsets when you’re the one not with the kids. This part is not always easy, but it is certainly possible.

Try to bring the spirit of what the holiday is, to your attitude and to your interactions with your former spouse.

I wish you blessings for the holidays, whatever you should be celebrating at this time of year.

If you are stuck regarding holiday decisions, or any other decisions related to separation or divorce matters or family-life matters, set up a COMPLEMENTARY STRATEGY SESSION with me and let’s get it sorted out.

Email me at tallie@familyforeverlifestyle.com

One Family, Two Homes, Many Problems…and Solutions!

Baby on 2 Houses

(Note: whether you’re a separated parent or not, you may find this article useful for yourself, and possibly to pass on to someone you know it could help)

Although it is becoming more and more common for families with separated parents to have their children living between two homes, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy for all involved. The child(ren) may have difficulties following different routines, sleep patterns are inconsistent, sometimes their performance in school is affected, etc.

However, the fact that it isn’t necessarily easy for all involved also doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to live in such a scenario and have it truly work!

I have clients in various stages of separation – from the beginning stages of figuring out an arrangement to already separate and living for some time in two homes. This plus the fact that I too have my children living between two separate homes, gives me a lot of perspective on ways to manage this living arrangement in a healthy way for all.

I thought I would share a particular personal story and the results of the situation.

My daughter (at 6 years old) started to wake up several times during the night, calling “Mommy!” I would go to her, provide comfort till she fell back to sleep, until the next call out, “Mommy!” Finally, she would ask me to stay with her in her bed, which I would do till the morning.

I didn’t realize the impact of this, until my beloved fiancé (now husband) pointed out to me how ‘unworkable’ this is: for me and my sleep-health, for her, and….for him!

We decided to find out if this was happening in her other home, with her father. NOPE!

We set up a time to conference and exchange information on what each of us are doing in our respective homes in terms of routines. We went through the whole thing: morning routine, after-school routine, bed time routine, etc.

It was illuminating!

I was able to try their approaches, where mine seemed not to be working. And, likewise, they were able to try some of ours, where theirs weren’t working.

The result?

Consistency across two houses, leading to greater confidence and sense of safety and security for our daughter and ease in her routines. Not to mention PEACE OF MIND for all adults involved!

But not only was she (and we) sleeping through the night, another important result arose.

For those same few months we were getting regular reports from school that, while academically she is incredibly astute, behaviourally she was being disruptive in class during group time and not cooperating when asked to stop. Never a fun thing for the ego as a parent! Not to mention, we were concerned that this behaviour would overshadow her academic capabilities.

As we worked to maintain this semblance of consistency across the two houses for the benefit of our daughter, I found that I was transforming as a parent. I was actually starting to really practice more of what I and many other parenting practitioners preach: being consistent in my parenting, rules setting and keeping, and following through on consequences. I called it “Being a Firm-Wall while being loving and compassionate”

Interesting – this way of behaving on my part became a natural outcome when my focus was on creating and maintaining an environment that truly works for my daughter’s (and our family’s) success.

And the calls from school?

What calls? We stopped getting them.

So what are the key points you can take away from this story and bring to yours?

  1. Create consistent routines between 2-households. Of course, each parent may have very different lifestyles and work schedules so it’s not about being “exactly the same.” But, where possible, such as similar or same bedtime, and similar routine leading to bedtime, and ways of handling homework, discipline matters, etc.
  2. Keep a collaborative and communicative relationship with your ex-spouse – if not for you, for your children, which ultimately WILL benefit you.
  3. Focus on creating and maintaining an environment for your children that is conducive to their (and your) health and success. Try different approaches when the ones you’re using aren’t working.
  4. Be open to transforming yourself and your ways of acting. Why not? You are a growing and developing human being. Learning through this process keeps it dynamic and even fun for you.
  5. View and treat others as your partners for your children’s health and success. That includes your ex, potentially their new partner/spouse and yours, as well as school(s) teachers/principals, etc.

I wish you the very best with your parenting.

If you would like guidance on this, or any other parenting, separation/divorce, or relationship matter, please schedule a complimentary strategy session.

Don’t see a time in my schedule for you? Email me directly at tallie@familyforeverlifestyle.com

Warmly,

Tallie