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Keeping children at the center can make for a happier holiday

Anyone who has had a child grow up and get into a serious relationship with a significant other knows the challenges it can create during the holidays. Who gets how much time with whom can often prove to be a big source of friction for Louisiana families. In some cases, it might be so hard to deal with that it leads to decisions to forego family get-togethers completely.

If you think that it's difficult when children are grown up, consider how delicate things can get for divorced parents of younger offspring during the special times of the year. In an ideal world, child custody and co-parenting arrangements have been worked out well in advance, but life happens and the works can easily get gummed up unless steps are taken to minimize the drama.

Experts generally agree that the key to minimizing holiday angst is to keep the focus squarely on the children. To make the most of things, here are some thoughts that might be useful.

  • Make the divorce decree the foundation.If it's been well thought out, the decree should have provisions for parenting time during major holidays. Even if it lacks detail, it can provide a place to start.
  • Be flexible. Holidays mean a greater convergence of the broader family. Being willing to trade time as might be needed can mean greater peace. At the same time, both parents should be prepared to find ways to arrange make-up periods.
  • Get specific. Failing to plan exact dates, times and locations for dropping off and picking up the children means planning to fail. Solid communication is critical and is easier with today's technology -- including parenting apps on smartphones.
  • Coordinate on gifts and stick to the agreement. Divorced couples learn quickly that money can be tight. By synchronizing on presents, parents can avoid duplication and keep gifting sensible. It also reduces the risk of competitive gifting, which only serves to erode relationships.

By emphasizing the quality of time together it becomes easier to achieve a peaceful holiday time.

Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Tips for Managing Parenting Time During the Holidays," Joseph E. Cordell, accessed Dec. 1, 2015

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