Here we are now in countdown mode… Chanukah and Christmas are right around the corner. Holidays are always stressful, but especially for those that have been through a separation and/or divorce and now have to coordinate the holidays with an ex for the sake of the children, this can be a particularly unpleasant time of the year. As a divorce lawyer, my suggestion to parents is that they discuss the calendaring issues asap– don’t expect any miracles from the courts if you have waited until the last minute to suddenly create a crisis. For most of us, unless someone is bleeding outside the courthouse steps, it’s not likely to be an emergency.

As someone who has shared custody of a child for over 7 years, I will tell you this- do your best to put the child first during the holiday season. Children should not be used as pawns in some ridiculous power-play game between the parents; they are the innocent ones brought into this world by two individuals that at one point loved each other. They are the product of 2 parties, who now need to find a way to share in special moments. I know it is hard, but you have to put your disappointment and pain aside. Remind yourself that the best gift that other person ever gave you was this amazing child.

I’m not expecting everyone to be able to do what I do– I exchange gifts with my ex, we’ve shared Xmas Eve dinner together, and yes I still send his parents a holiday card. To some that may just seem way too weird– who cares? There are no rules here– other than to try your best to minimize the losses for your children.

Be a good role model for your kids– show them that you can rise above past transgressions and let go of the past.  Spread mirth and goodwill during the holidays, even with your ex, who may or may not reciprocate your kindness.  It’s not about the adults, it’s about teaching your kids to forgive and celebrate love– especially during the holidays.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.