Holiday Time-Sharing Tips for Tampa Bay Parents

Co-Parenting and The Holiday Schedule

It’s that time again and many Tampa Bay parents may be experiencing some anxiety about co-parenting during the holidays. If you’re new to time-sharing,  this holiday season may have you a bit on edge. Whether you are a mother or father, you may be particularly sensitive or anxious about the holidays. If you have recently divorced and have spent years celebrating the holidays together as a family, it can be even more stressful. Remember, it’s perfectly normal to have an array of emotions! If you were unmarried and you are time-sharing for the first time this season, this can be just as unnerving.

Best Interest of the Children

If you have a good relationship with your ex and you have worked out a time-sharing schedule that is in the best interest of your children, it may still be a difficult, but certainly a less hectic time of year. For other parents and families who have higher conflicts, holiday time-sharing can be extremely frustrating. There are some things to remember if you are co-parenting this holiday season:

  • Do everything from a mindset of being in the best interest of the children.
  • Holidays can be particularly difficult for both you and your children. Don’t be too hard on them or yourself for feeling sensitive or emotional.
  • Don’t worry too much. In a positive environment, and when parents co-parent with minimal conflict and respect, kids tend to adjust quite well to the changes.
  • If you notice that your children are showing signs of stress and you and your ex are co-parenting on good terms, take time to talk to your children together about the holiday changes. Teamwork works and assures the children you even though you are not together as a couple, you will come together to help them work through any issues they are having.
  • If you and your ex have trouble with co-parenting, let your children know they can be open with you about their feelings. Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Don’t make it about you.  Never minimize their emotions. Be understanding, honest, realistic, and encouraging.
  • Take your kids emotions seriously. Often times, a parent will be accused of making things up about kids who are stressed out and having difficulty with time-sharing. Although kids do adjust, being away from a primary caretaker can be very stressful for some children. Try to put those suspicions aside and listen to your ex’s concerns, or at least agree to speak to your children about any concerns that may arise.
  • Be consistent. Children can be effected by one or the other parent’s inability to be consistent. It’s important, therefore to abide by your time-sharing and parenting schedules. Be on time but also be flexible, especially if there are long distances and traveling involved. By doing so, you will minimize the chances of increased conflict.
  • Don’t forget those phone calls or video calls. When the children are with you, abiding by the phone or video chat schedule helps the kids adjust, but it also shows you are doing the right thing. You may not have been court-ordered to have free and open communication, but always ask yourself –“What is in the best interest of my children?”
  • Be flexible. As your kids get older, you may need to be more flexible. Friends, functions and other social needs may require some adjustments during the holidays. Be open to change!
  • Don’t alienate the other parent, even if you are finding the holidays to be a difficult period of adjustment and even if the other parent has not been the best parent or spouse. Keep it to yourself and share your concerns with your attorney if you need conflict resolution.
  • If conflicts arise during the holidays, never take the law into your own hands. Abide by your court order if it is at all possible and keep calm for the children.
  • Call your family law attorney for advice and instruction if there is an emergency situation.
  • Of course, if at any time you feel that your children are in a harmful or dangerous situation, you should call your local law enforcement.
  • If at any time you feel there has been a substantial change in circumstance or that you need to enforce a current child custody or time-sharing order during the holiday season, call your family law attorney for advice and consultation. For more information about time sharing or child custody orders, enforcement of time sharing orders or for modification of child custody or time-sharing orders in Pasco, Hernando, or Tampa Bay, contact Wendy Doyle-Palumbo, a trusted Hudson child custody lawyer at 727.824.5727.