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3 Ways Blended Families Can Avoid Holiday Stress


Every divorced couple with minor children must agree to a court-ordered parenting plan, and every parenting plan includes a detailed schedule of which parent will be with the children on each day of the year, including holidays.  While this is certainly preferable to spending the entire month of November fighting about where the kids will spend Thanksgiving and only arriving at a decision while turkeys are being carved, the parenting plan is only a list of dates; it cannot account for all the stress of family holiday celebrations.  While the parenting plan can’t include provisions like “no snarky comments from Grandma about kids’ physical appearance” and “no vegan diatribes from Stepmom,” the more details it includes about holiday schedules and transportation, the less conflict can infiltrate your holiday plans.  A Boca Raton child custody lawyer can help you draft an airtight parenting plan or resolve disputes related to an existing one.

Make Your Plans Far Enough in Advance That Your Ex-Spouse Can’t Mess With Them

Mom’s family always makes holiday plans at the last minute, and it always drives Dad crazy.  The parenting plan says that, in even-numbered years, the kids are with Dad from December 26 until January 1.  This year, Stepmom’s parents want to take Dad, Stepmom, and the kids on a skiing trip.  It is not too soon if Dad books the tickets in July; he should notify Mom as soon as he buys them.  (Pursuant to the parenting plan, she already knows that these days are Dad’s parenting time.)  This way, if Mom’s brother makes an unannounced visit right after Christmas, and Mom calls the kids while they are on the way to the airport to tell them to turn back and see their favorite uncle, the answer is an automatic no.

Set Aside Time for Just You and Your Kids

Family gatherings are stressful, whether it is step-relatives or in-laws that you dread.  Your kids do not have the right to exclude extended family members from family gatherings just so they can have you to themselves, but a little bit of one-on-one time with your kids goes a long way.  It will be easier for your kids to tolerate Christmas and New Year’s with their step siblings if they know that, on the afternoon of January 2, they get to enjoy the most fun part of the holidays; while Stepdad drives the stepsiblings back to their mother’s house, Mom and kids get to take down the Christmas tree.

Help Teens See the Big Picture

If your teens are stressed about holidays with the blended family, reassure them that they will be adults in just a few years, and they will have more control over where and with whom they can spend their time.  Daydream with them about future holidays spent with friends, with the families of friends, and with their own in-laws and children.

Contact Schwartz | White About Disputes Over Implementing Parenting Plans

A South Florida family law attorney can help you draft a parenting plan and resolve disputes if your ex-spouse does not comply with it.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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