Handling custody and visitation arrangements is tough at the best of times, but it’s even more dangerous and emotionally charged around the holiday season. Parents who may be able to cooperate on an ordinary Thursday night may find themselves screaming furiously and saying out loud the normal, resentful things that they’re feeling about their former partner when that Thursday is the fourth one in November.
The fall brings a wonderful change from the heat and humidity of a Virginia summer, but it also brings the holiday season. From late October through the first of January, we see more and more fights break out over custody and visitation, and have more and more parents requesting emergency hearings to determine what should happen for each holiday.
If this isn’t how you want to live (and I suspect that it isn’t) you’ll have to lay the groundwork now for the way you want custody and visitation handled later.
The most important thing to remember here is, like I said in my post yesterday, that the holiday isn’t about a date on a calendar. The date on a calendar is a guideline, for sure, because it would be strange to us to celebrate Christmas in March or April—but that doesn’t mean that if you don’t celebrate Christmas with your children on December 25th that you’re somehow missing out on the experience.
If you don’t get the children on Christmas day this year, it’s probably going to be a difficult transition. But you should still aim to keep the children’s best interests at heart, even though it’ll be a hard time for you—and probably for them, as well. Let them enjoy the time with their dad by not making them feel guilty about it. Ensure them that you’re happy and well taken care of where you are—and then make concrete plans to do something that makes sure that you really are okay.
Remember—if you don’t have the kids this year, that means you will have them next year. At least, you’ll probably get either Thanksgiving OR Christmas—and, chances are, your child’s father is feeling a little sad about the holiday he’s missing out on, too. Don’t make the experience bad for everyone, unless, of course, you want that coming back on you when it’s your turn to host the kids.
Make alternate plans, try out some new holiday traditions, and celebrate the holiday your way on your time, whenever that may be. Remember to be flexible because, if you are, chances are the same courtesy will be extended to you as well. After all, this is about more than just Thanksgiving or Christmas this year—it’s about all the Thanksgivings and Christmases that are coming in the future, and what message you want to send your kids about the holidays.