As the holiday season is off and running, many children will shift from one home to another due to split families. During the holidays, many custody schedules change due to children having the opportunity to spend more time with each parent especially if one of the parents happens to live out of town. In other cases, the regular schedule changes due to vacations, greater opportunities for kids to be with their non-custodial parent, and also because sometimes the kids themselves wish to spend more time with a particular parent. As with any sort of change, care must be taken into consideration for all parties involved, but especially for the children as they have been accustomed to a routine for most of the calender year.
Children fear many things when a custody change occurs. First, they fear that they will not be able to contact their parent as frequently which can create anxiety and worry that they will somehow lose contact and love with that particular parent. It is very important that both parent parties work together to allow their children to contact the non-custodial parent whenever they want to. Granted, each household should deal with conflicts under their own roof and not allow the child to attempt to “split” the parents, but checking and sharing stories is a very natural and important activity for children to be able to do over the summer when they may not see their parent as often. Second, many children miss the familiarity of the home that they are not presently residing in. Children in split families typically have two rooms, two sets of friends, and different activities that they do at each home. It is very important that both sets of parents are sensitive to these differences and allow for some flexibility in in blending some of the activities. For example, allowing your child to invite a neighborhood friend from mom’s house to dad’s house is a nice way that parents can be supportive to their child’s needs. Third, often times children worry that their parents will speak poorly about one another once they spend more time together. Despite differences between any set of parents, it is very important NOT to speak poorly to your children about that particular parent. If your child is having a conflict with your ex-spouse, it is always best to encourage your child to speak directly to that parent in a sensitive manner. If you find out that your ex is not being very receptive, you can try to calmly encourage their father or mother to try to be more sensitive to their feelings. Fourth, any sort of adjustment takes time and also once the holiday ends, custody schedules tend to go back to the way they were written during the regular school year. This is also another adjustment that parents should discuss with their children the month before school starts.
As with any divorced family, the focus needs to always be on the children and their best interests. When the parent’s animosity, anger, and resentment color the waters, the children always suffer as will your relationship with them if you do not put your feelings aside for the love you have for your kids. Children always look to their parents to model how to treat others, especially someone who they love and need which is certainly their other parent.
- allow children to contact their parents whenever they want to over the holiday unless it is due to conflict between you and your child. If this is the case, work it out with your child .
- allow flexibility in reference to friends and time
- do not speak poorly about your ex-spouse – this will only make your children resent you and make them nervous. It is only out of feared danger for the safety of your child that a parent has to set limits about the other custodial parent..
- be sensitive to adjustment to your house and away from their other home