Holiday Co-Parenting | Family Law Paducah, Kentucky

Joint Custody & Co-Parenting: Tips for the Holiday Season

Even after a divorce, many parts of parenting can stay the same. That includes maintaining a good parent-child relationship, which often, if not always, requires close attention and care. Children are very likely to be exposed to emotional turbulence after the annulment. 

In addition, their lives can become even more unstable if the parents continue having disagreements whenever they meet. Because of those possible outcomes, parents should carefully consider the parenting styles and steps they would take concerning their children after the judicial separation.

If you and your spouse just got divorced, you might be unsure where to concentrate your efforts to maintain healthy and effective family communication. Restarting can be difficult, and sometimes the memories of the past and what could have been prevent parents, who are new to co-parenting, from moving forward. That said, the first step to confidently get started on the co-parenting journey is to consider the following aspects:

Make a Parenting Plan & Strictly Follow It

The time you invest in creating a thorough parenting plan will be very worthwhile. Establishing the boundaries, best practices, and expectations with your co-parent early on will give you the edge you need to confidently work through your new relationship with each other and your kids. 

The plan can also be your fallback whenever difficult situations involving the family and the young ones occur. A good parenting plan should, at the very least, include how to handle requests to change parenting time, how to set up exchanges (the kids), and how you will talk or communicate with each other.

Your kids will adjust to staying in two different accommodations at a given time if a set schedule is followed consistently. They would also feel safer with a routine and more accepting of the new changes if both parents concede to certain expectations. For example, parents attending their sports events or family gatherings, getting dropped at school by mom and picked up by dad at the end of the day, etc.

Prioritize Your Children

It may seem like a no-brainer to put your children’s needs before your own, but controlling your emotions is sometimes easier said than done while co-parenting.

Only when co-parents are earnest in their objectives and mindful of their reasons can they raise happy and healthy children. Otherwise, your co-parenting attempts may suffer if you become too frustrated or harbor past grudges. While being open and honest about your personal emotions is valid and essential, you should take note and remember that your child’s connection with the other parent does not need to mirror yours.

Every co-parent should do as much as possible to strengthen their child’s relationship with the other parent, barring major health or safety issues. Kids deserve all the love and support from everybody, especially from their parents, who they see as special adults in their lives.

Be an Adaptive Co-Parent

Incidents can occur in every family. Co-parents will eventually have frustrating misunderstandings that result in serious disagreements. Being open-minded to such possibilities is as crucial as firmly believing in your own parenting style.

Parents will have to solicit favors from one another. Schedules shift, appointments are missed, and discussions will occasionally get strained. Do not allow your own communication to lapse due to these mishaps. Instead, take the initiative to reorient yourself.

Adults find these communication gaps to be quite aggravating. But if parents let such chasms grow wider, it is the kids who end up paying the price. Find a strategy to calmly get through your angry times while taking precautions to prevent similar problems from happening again in the future.

Co-Parenting During the Holidays

Thanksgiving and Christmas without your child’s other parents can be complicated. You want to make the holidays special for everyone in your family, yet the image we have of a happy Christmas is one where everyone is still gathered around the table.

Even if you are no longer romantically engaged with your ex, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and experience a stress-free and enjoyable vacation. The key is to plan ahead and to consider what we have listed below:

Discuss the Holiday in Advance

Planning ahead is essential. Last-minute squabbles over who gets to spend how much time with your children and where they get to spend it are the last thing you want to deal with. This scenario can be handled in a variety of ways. Co-parenting relationships can become heated during the holidays, regardless of whether this is your first time or you’ve been doing it for a long period of time. 

Give your ex-partner time and space to talk about what they want and why they want it. As with your divorce, think of this as a new round of negotiating. Although you and your ex-partner may not getting along well, try to put aside your differences for the sake of your children and communicate via a third party or online.

It helps to put things down in writing. Even if it’s only a text or email conversation, having it written down ensures that both co-parents are on the same page.

Talk to Your Children

Tell your kids about the holidays and the possible arrangements (as long as they’re old enough to understand) as soon as possible. Regardless of age, make sure they are aware of the circumstances, especially if it is your first holiday following a separation. Doing so will help the kids understand what to expect and prevent them from getting too disappointed when the day arrives.

If you have older children, ask about their interests. Even though their opinions are not the only ones to be considered, they still serve as an excellent foundation for the holiday plans. If one parent lives a long distance away from the other, some children may prefer to stay with the one closer to their friends. But that is not always the case, so keep an open line for conversation with the little ones. Including them in the negotiation process by soliciting their input gives them a sense of involvement and choice.

They’ll be happier when the holidays arrive if you have planned ahead of time. Sometimes, it might take more than one event before they accept this new normal, but getting them off on the right foot should be enough at the moment.

Consider a Joint Celebration

Make the most of it if you and your partner are both on board, and see if you can celebrate together in the same place.

This is not always an option, especially in the immediate aftermath of a divorce or legal separation. But remember that you don’t have to feel guilty about the entire thing, especially if the annulment was due to reasonable circumstances and agreed upon by both parties.

If the co-parents are on good terms (or even friends), it will not hurt to discuss the notion of collaborating on a holiday treat for the kids. This is less about the co-parents rekindling their lost passion but more for the children to have the most memorable and enjoyable vacation possible given the turn of events.

Your child must believe that you and your ex-partner are on good terms. There should be no bickering, yelling, or anything else that disturbs the tranquility. Children can benefit from spending time with both co-parents over the holidays. This is not a romantic event but rather a social one. Make sure they know that.

Coming together this way might be fun even if your ex-partner has and brings a new partner. But don’t push yourself if doing this option will impact your emotional and mental health. It is simply that– an option to consider, not a mandatory responsibility. You and the kids can still enjoy the festivities on your own if that is the better choice.

In Conclusion

Nobody ever claimed co-parenting during the holidays would be simple. It will not be stressful if you plan ahead, maintain open communication with your co-parent, and put the kids’ needs first. Keep in mind that the welfare of your children is something you and your ex-partner are concerned about. Everyone should have fun during the holidays.

If you need help with your co-parenting situation and want professional advice on family law and other related matters, look no further because Attorney Jennifer Mills Peek of Paducah, Kentucky, has everything you are searching for! Reach her at (270) 558-4790 or visit her website at