Many New Jersey residents are anticipating the hustle and bustle of a new holiday season that's just around the bend. You may have already done some of your Thanksgiving shopping and started formulating your guest list. If you just went through a divorce, this year's celebration will likely be a bit different than others in the past. Then again, if holidays usually led to major arguments and discord during your marriage, you might be greatly looking forward to trying something new.
Hopefully, you and your former spouse already discussed issues, such as who will get the kids for which holidays and what the general ground rules will be for milestone events and special occasions. Even so, that doesn't necessarily mean a problem will never arise. Life happens. Plans change; people do, too. The key to low-stress holidays is to know your rights and also where to turn for help in a pinch, if needed.
How to keep the peace on Thanksgiving and beyond
The bottom line is that you know what's best for your children and your family as a whole. Your Thanksgiving does not have look the same as others. In fact, sometimes the key to low-stress is to do what works for your particular needs and goals, without worrying about supposed standards or the status quo. The following ideas may help you avoid problems:
- Negotiate ahead of time: When you develop a parenting plan, you can customize it any way you like, provided your children's other parent agrees to its terms. You can prevent a lot of stress by putting holiday details in writing, specifically listing what dates your children will celebrate throughout the year, and with whom. That way, if a discrepancy occurs, you can simply refer to your court orders to clarify the issue.
- Every holiday needn't be autonomous: There's nothing saying you can't split holiday time 50/50 with your former spouse. This may take a bit more juggling and schedule coordination, but you might like the idea of your children spending half the day with you and half the day with their other parent. For instance, the kids can have Thanksgiving brunch at one house and then have dinner at the other.
- Everyone under one roof: If you are on good terms with your former spouse, you might decide it's in your children's best interests to celebrate all holidays together. This way, they still get to experience having their whole family under one roof, even though their parents are no longer married.
Clear communication is definitely a key factor, no matter what type of plan you devise. There are also resources readily available to you who can thoroughly review your plan before it's submitted to the court for approval.
Your holidays may be different after divorce, but they can still be special, joyous and memorable. When your children witness your willingness to cooperate and compromise for their sake, they are likely to have an increased chance of successfully adapting to their new lifestyle.