For many children of divorced or split families, the holidays present challenges. Children are bombarded in the media by images of happy homes and families, especially at Christmas. A Child’s reality, though, may be quite different. Families that have experienced a divorce or where the parents do not live together, face a different set of norms when the holidays arrive. The normal course of a holiday for these Children often involves traveling mid-day from one parent to the other—leaving one parent just as the fun is starting and arriving at the other parent’s home just as the fun has concluded. Now, leaving the fun or arriving too late for the fun may not actually be what is happening at either parent’s home; but this is how it often feels to a Child. They are not settled in for the day, they are facing a potentially stressful exchange to the other parent and they simply cannot be present in the moment of holiday happiness. They are on a schedule—one that you created—not one they asked for. This article touches briefly upon the complex issue of holiday parenting time and presents one point of view and interpretation. It is not meant, by any means, as a thorough discussion of this issue nor is it to be interpreted as a legal opinion nor relied upon for legal advice.
So, what can you do to prevent a dreaded holiday for your Child due to child custody issues? Instead of splitting the actual holiday day, such as December 25th or Thanksgiving Day or a birthday, why not allow for whole days and nights and larger blocks of time where the Child can stay put for a while? This allows the Child to enjoy what each parent has to offer without concerns that confrontation or having to leave will interrupt the experience. Also, it allows for your Child to double their fun as they have a second holiday with the other parent.