Holidays can be stressful for all families, but separated and divorced parents in Pennsylvania may have to deal with additional challenges. Along with their children, parents may be struggling with emotions that include sadness, anger, fear and loss; in addition, the change in routine and traditions can be difficult. However, it is necessary for parents to put these feelings aside so that they can focus on their children and make sure they have a pleasant holiday season.
Parents should not simply repress their emotions, so they may need to deal with them by talking to a therapist or counselor or just to loved ones. They should encourage their children to spend time with the other parent during the holidays and enjoy themselves instead of trying to prevent it.
Children may become more anxious if they do not know what to expect, so parents should make holidays plans and share them with their children. Neither parent should subject the child to a barrage of questions about their time with the other parent. They should let their children decide when and what to share and should listen without judgment. Patience is important during this time as parents and children adjust to the new traditions.
In some divorces, holiday time is negotiated as part of the child custody agreement or is included in the child custody schedule created by the judge if the case has gone to litigation. If it is not already in place, parents should try to avoid returning to court over the issues. Courts prefer that parents work out most parenting issues between themselves. Exceptions are significant changes in the custody or support agreement. For example, if a parent is relocating or if one parent has had a significant change in income, there may need to be modifications to the custody or support agreements.