Holidays and visits from out-of-town guests challenge the co-parenting balance. These events often come with memories that last a lifetime, which is why many divorced parents grapple with whether to switch parenting time to accommodate these special occasions or not.
These are opportunities for the child to bond with relatives and experience new traditions. However, they often entail a major change to the parenting time schedule for the holidays.
The best interests of the children
The child’s best interests should be at the core of any decision regarding parenting time. The primary question is whether switching days will benefit the child emotionally and logistically. Consider what each parent has going on at the time and how participating or missing those events will affect the child. If the child is older, it may behoove the parents to ask the child in a non-judgmental and non-pushy way what they want to do.
Flexibility and fairness in co-parenting
Co-parenting dynamics are unique to each family. A cooperative approach often has the best outcomes. Flexibility can be valuable because rigid adherence to a parenting plan might not always serve the best interests of the child.
In high-conflict situations, adhering strictly to the agreed-upon schedule might be less. In such cases, it might be better for the child to celebrate holidays and enjoy visits with out-of-town guests during the regular parenting time with each parent.
Switching parenting time for special occasions should also involve respecting each other’s boundaries. This includes acknowledging that it’s acceptable for each parent to have their own time with the child to create unique traditions. Ultimately, the parenting plan must be respected and followed, so cooperation or turning to the court are the only ways to solve this common holiday conundrum.