One of the hardest times to “be a co-parent” is on Christmas. Regardless of how you break up the day – either morning and night or Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day, you’re always going to feel like you’re missing out on at least one part of the holiday. The best way to deal with this is to make arrangements ahead of time. Making decisions the day-of will just make the situation harder.
CO-PARENT SCHEDULE ARRANGEMENTS AND HOLIDAYS
Guidelines are important for your emotional health, as well as to help define aspects of your co-parenting relationship. This is why schedules are important. Not necessarily a weekly one, but one that involves events and holidays and every event that happens during the holidays. This means creating a holiday season schedule. This schedule should be agreed on far in advance so that co-parents know what parent the child will be spending Christmas and other holidays with in order to avoid fights during the holidays. These agreements don’t have to be formal, but if they’re in writing it makes it harder to argue about. There are a number of online tools available to assist you in creating a co-parenting schedule.
ALWAYS BE FLEXIBLE
While it’s important to set arrangements, you need to be sensitive to your child’s needs, which means being flexible. If your child really wants to have a night with dad instead of mom, then it might be best for your child to do it. This is a difficult time your kids are trying to adapt to. You should encourage them to be honest when it comes to their emotions. You also should be sensitive to your child emotions, which often means putting your own emotions aside.
CREATE A CO-PARENT RELATIONSHIP
Creating a relationship with your co-parent can be difficult. You may decide working with a mediator is the best option to making an agreement. Once you establish ground rules for yourself and how to maintain the relationship, over time it becomes easier. Creating a flexible schedule may help get to these “easier” moments. Even though these may be easier moments, there will be times when things feel impossible. Finding balance with your co-parent may help you both become better people and better parents to your children. By being cooperative with your co-parent, you establish a pattern of life for your children which can carry into the future. The number one priority you and your co-parent need to do is to make sure you put the best interests of your child first.
STEP 1: ONLY YOU ARE ABLE TO CONTROL YOU
In order to create a co-parenting relationship, you must first realize the only person you can control is yourself. You don’t have any power over your ex, so don’t even both trying. If you can accept this fact and are able to control your own emotions and actions, you’ll have an easier time developing a co-parenting relationship. Hopefully, your example will carry over to your ex-spouse.
STEP 2: SET BOUNDARIES
The next step you must learn in order to create a successful co-parenting relationship is how to set boundaries. Hie are a few do’s and don’t’s to help you get started.
- Sabotage the relationship your child has with their other parent.
- Use your child as a pawn to hurt or get back at your ex.
- Permit your child to speak badly when talking about the other parent.
- Use your child to get information, manipulate, and/or influence your ex.
- Transfer onto your child your hurt feelings and/or frustrations toward your ex.
- Force your child to choose a side while scheduling conflicts occur.
- Put pressure on your child.
- Depend on your child for companionship or support too much when dealing with your divorce. Your child isn’t your therapist.
- Become so emotionally needy your child begins to feel guilty about spending time with others. You would hate to discover they didn’t participate in social outings due to the fact they were afraid you weren’t able to deal with being alone.
Bottom line: Your child should not be burdened with situations they aren’t able to control. You shouldn’t saddle your children with your issues and emotional needs. Doing so will only create feelings of being helpless and insecure which could cause them to doubt their own abilities and strengths. It’s not their responsibility to hold you together and they shouldn’t feel it is. Children aren’t able to understand and deal with problems of adults and shouldn’t have to. Their focus should be on their own development, and your’s should be, too.
- Sit down with your ex and create a plan whereby differences are set aside so the focus can be put on meeting the needs of your children you will be co-parenting.
- Negotiate how to handle holidays, visitations, and events.
- Create guidelines for behavior of raising your children that each of you will adhere to. Children need consistency in their lives without regard as to which parent they’re with. This includes bed-times, phone privileges, etc. A child will frequently test situations and try to manipulate their boundaries. You and your ex must present a united front.
- Negotiate the roles of extended family members.
- Establish open communication with respect to the development of your child. This includes the ability to compare notes on situations and jointly deciding on any punishment.
- While it may be painful emotionally, you and your ex must decide to inform each other ob any changes in circumstances of their life. Your child shouldn’t be the source of “breaking news.”
- Determine that you’ll conduct yourself with emotional integrity and maturity.
WHAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS THE MOST
Putting your child’s needs first, there are certain things they’ll need during this time: structure, acceptance, assurance of their safety, freedom from blame or guilt that they were responsible for their parent’s divorce, two stable parents, and the freedom and permission to just be a kid and have fun.
WHAT ABOUT GRANDPARENT VISITATION CONSIDERATIONS?
MEDIATION BEFORE COURT
The official California Courts website advises that grandparents should consider mediation before they pursue going to court for those grandparent visitation rights. “There are a number of problems with pursuing a grandparent visitation claim in family court,” said Gerald Maggio, a divorce mediator located in Orange County. “To start, the courts have huge backlogs. And once a case does get to the front of the line, the family is often ordered to see a mediator anyway.”
HOW MEDIATION CAN HELP WITH GRANDPARENT VISITATION RIGHTS
The California Courts website suggests that the best way to reach an agreement regarding grandparent visitation rights is through mediation. This is due to the fact that it better serves the child as well as the family through reducing conflicts, time, and money spent on court proceedings.
NO CLEAR PROCEDURE FOR GETTING GRANDPARENT VISITATION RIGHTS
Additionally, there really is no clear-cut procedure for grandparents to file an official claim. The claim might need to either be filed under an already existing case or filed as an entirely new case. In fact, there is no official form to file for grandparent visitation rights. “Some grandparents think that they have to file an official claim because their child’s ex-spouse is too unreasonable for mediation,” said Maggio. “But those are often the families that can benefit the most from mediation. Litigation just exacerbates conflict and bad feelings while costing everyone a lot of money.” Grandparent visitation rights are often covered by the parenting plan that is put together during the divorce mediation process. But if the family has decided to go through court, rather than through mediation, often do not include grandparent visitation rights in their co-parenting plan. For families that have pursued court procedures, Maggio noted that these families might want to turn to a divorce or child custody mediator in order to create a specific agreement that includes the grandparent-child relationship.
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