Spending equal time with children during the holidays for co-parents can be challenging at best. According to dad and family law attorney, Patrick Baghdaserians, in an interview with Insider, it can be done and done successfully! There truly is an artful method to the madness. So, here are his four tips to better co-parent during the holidays.
1. Plan ahead, way ahead
“The best thing you can do to ensure a smooth holiday season is to plan well ahead,” Baghdaserians said in his interview. “I advise my clients to discuss any changes to the custody schedule at least three to four months ahead of time.”
Even though plans can and sometimes do change, “plan ahead, way ahead,” ensuring that both parties have time to weigh in. And if you need to take the matter to court or mediation, then planning things ahead of time works best for everyone. Be flexible and this will unquestionably make the stress disappear.
“Next, think about the tone of your communication. Starting the conversation ahead of time is a great first step. Now, show that you are willing to be reasonable and negotiate. You want to lay a foundation of respect in your words, tone, and action. It’s the right thing to do, and in the long run, it will help you get more of what you want.”
Respect goes a long way, especially in a co-parenting scenario. Remember, non-verbal communication also needs to exude respect. Body language, tone, facial expressions, etc. can sometimes convey the message better than the verbal.
3. Be reasonable
“We all have issues we can’t budge on. But in a co-parenting situation, your children should never be one of those issues. Successful co-parenting takes flexibility and understanding,” Baghdaserians said.
He continued in the interview, “Be willing to help your co-parent. It’s tempting to go get your revenge and demand a pound of flesh. But that just hurts everyone. Being willing to hear your co-parent and compromise with them goes much further.”
Remember, as the well-known English proverb goes, You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
4. Imagine you are the child
Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes usually helps you to better understand their feelings and needs. As a co-parent, imagine that you are the child and think about how action of the “parent” will affect you.
“Imagine you’re the child Maybe parents agree to split Christmas Eve. But that means a lot of shuttling around for the child, on what’s already a busy, exciting, often overwhelming day. That’s why I tell my clients to put themselves in their children’s shoes and take note of what is best for them,” Baghdaserians tells Insider.
“Yes, you can split the holidays. But do you really need to split the day? Probably not. That’s part of the biggest piece of advice I have for co-parents: make sure you’re child-centered, not parent centered. If there’s one thing you and your co-parent can probably agree on, it’s that the interests of your children should come first.”
If you add these tips to your parenting toolbox, and are a co-parent, these will unquestionably help you to co-parent like a pro this holiday season.