A mother with her child

A mother and her child are playing at the beach of ocean

Parenting and custody disputes during holiday seasons disrupt families and are emotionally upsetting to children. A detailed parenting plan that includes provisions for the holidays can ease the stress on children and eliminate parental disputes.

Holiday Disputes Increase Anxiety

While spouses may agree about the dissolution of the marriage, children are often caught in the middle with little or no say about the outcome.

This can lead to emotional distress. Parents who struggle with each other over parenting rights and family holiday traditions may increase the anxiety their children experience.

A Holiday Parenting Plan is Critical

Even the best-intentioned parents can unfairly place children in the middle of holiday parenting disputes. To reduce their stress and preserve memorable holiday traditions, a detailed holiday parenting agreement is critical. 

A plan that accommodates parents while meeting the needs of children can include:

Prioritizing Holidays

Parents from different religious or ethnic backgrounds sometimes prioritize different holidays. In this case, the plan provides for parenting privileges according to the parent’s holiday priority.

Alternating Holidays

A helpful solution when parents prioritize the same holidays is to alternate holiday parenting between years. One parent shares holiday traditions with children in even years, and the other has the same privilege in odd years. The division of time is equal, eliminates disputes, and provides stability for children.

Double Holidays

Most children would welcome two Christmases or Thanksgiving turkeys. Some parents find that the solution is to share holidays with the children on different days during the same holiday season. The parents agree to take turns with the children on a different day or weekend during the season to prevent conflicts. Each is able to maintain family holiday traditions.

Birthdays and Special Events

Birthdays, graduations, and other special events should be a time for all to enjoy. A plan that allows both parents to be present is preferable for one-time special events. When it comes to birthdays, the double holiday method often works well, with each parent celebrating the child’s special day separately.

Cooperation is Key

While a well-prepared child custody agreement that includes provisions for the holidays is the foundation, parental cooperation is the key to holiday parenting. Success requires consideration of the best interests of the children and willingness to abide by the terms of the plan.