Tonight’s post on holiday custody issues, was written by our Atlanta Family Law Attorney, Naomi Lumpkin.
Last month, I wrote about the Art of Compromise in finances and how fighting over the small things in life did not make a lot of sense in the long run. After recently finishing a long contested custody case, it made me think that this logic has a lot to do with the custody and visitation schedule of children as well.
As we finish up the holidays, having made decisions about where the children would their Christmas break and for how long, I know for a fact that, in some cases, the claws came out. Time that once was spent with apple cider and cheer was now lost to fighting over how many days, even hours a child will spend at a particular house.
While it’s important to hold on to every second with your children, how does your approach affect their perception of that time? Fighting for minutes of bliss might be creating memories of hell.
I understand holiday traditions and wanting things to remain the same. In some households this starts with opening presents followed by a traditional breakfast and maybe finishing with a family dinner at grandpa’s house.
But divorce creates new traditions. One family now becomes two. While this may be hard on you, the people it is hardest on is your children. They now have to deal with traveling from place to place to try to make everyone happy. They have to reconstruct their Christmas with the idea of not having mommy and daddy there together to watch them open their presents from Santa.
Some parents go so far as to put their children in the middle, instructing them to decide where, and therefore how, they want to spend Christmas. Ho ho ho.
We can labor our holidays by counting the days, hours and minutes of this short holiday break. Or we can create and embrace new traditions, enjoying each moment, at that moment, of time spent with the little ones. We create our own reality. If you want it so, making a gingerbread house on December 31 can be just as rewarding as making one on Christmas Day.
Hanukkha, Christmas and New Years is about the smiles and memories created, not the calendar days acquired. Holidays are what we make of them. They can be a time of joy and happiness. They can be a time of teaching our children to focus on the important things in life.
Take off the boxing gloves, even if it’s Boxing Day. Even post divorce, when custody is shared by dividing time, holidays are for cheers not for tears!
Naomi Kemper Lumpkin