Tonight's post on the Grinch in family law is penned yet again by our Savannah attorney, David Purvis.
"And what happened then? Well, in Whoville, they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day."
-"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a timeless holiday story. The story is about "The Grinch," a bitter character who's small heart and animosity towards the holiday season has him set on "stealing Christmas." The term "grinch" is commonly used now as someone whose sullen outlook ruins the mood, particularly during the holiday season. What's between the actual story and the common use of the term is that, in the story, The Grinch realizes the true meaning of the holiday season, returns the gifts he stole, and is "reborn" as a kinder, gentler soul as the size of his heart increases threefold.
The holiday season can bring out "grinches" in all of us. The stress of travel, family, dealing with shopping crowds, and the finality of a calendar year can cause us to lose focus on the good things the holiday season brings to us. This can be especially heightened in bi-nuclear families where children split their time between two households. Too often, bi-nuclear parents fall into the trap of competing with each other over their child's holiday season and, for all practical purposes, steal the spirit and joy of the holiday spirit from their child.
If you're a parent in a bi-nuclear situation, take a moment and reflect on your holiday memories growing up. Hopefully, you have warm, fuzzy memories of the holidays, surrounded by loved ones and the joy of gift-giving and gift-receiving. Those are the memories you want your children to have, right? Spend time thinking of how you can make this year special for your children, even if you may not have physical custody of them on a particular calendar day. Consider compromises with your ex when holiday travel and plans interfere with your normal visitation schedule. If your child wants a different arrangement for visitation, co-parent with your ex spouse to consider making those changes.
I practice family law. In our Firm, we help families re-define their family rather than destroying it. Take the time to re-define and re-fine. Truly be The Grinch this season, you know, the one at the END of that famous story, whose heart has grown three sizes and whose mission becomes spreading holiday cheer. Making the extra effort during this season not only helps insure your child's holiday memories will be the warm and fuzzy ones every parent wants, but will also set the stage for a better 2014 in negotiating with your ex as you co-parent your child. That is re-defining and re-fining your family in a very three sizes larger way.