As the holidays approach it is very easy to get caught up in the anticipation of the season. Festive music, brightly colored decorations, and family traditions often signal a time when families come together and enjoy being with each other.
However, what is the impact on the family when this year the experiences will be different than in years past? Maybe this year the kids will spend time with Mom’s family for a portion of the season, and will then perhaps travel on vacation with Dad for another part of the season. Maybe the traditional pilgrimage to Grandma’s will be forfeited so that both parents will have equal time with their children. Even in situations when the divorce of two parents brings peace to a family unit, the holidays can still lead to stress since old traditions will most likely change with the change of the family dynamic. That stress can be translated in subtle ways that causes the happiness of this time of year to be diminished.
When couples decide to divorce, one way to help ensure that future holiday happenings bring minimal stress to the family is to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) rather than the traditional adversarial process of litigation. ADR processes such as mediation and Collaborative Law focus on the future and prepare a couple to have more effective communications after the divorce is finalized. A couple in a divorce that chooses mediation or Collaborative Law might work together to prepare a parenting plan that addresses almost all eventualities without dwelling on the past. They are results focused and realize that when children and a family are involved, the future must be examined and planned for to insure minimal stress.
This year may find your family celebrating the holidays in a different way. Just because something is different does not mean it is wrong. A different way of celebrating, when anticipated and planned for, can bring happiness and the spirit of the season to all involved. I wish all of you a healthy, happy holiday season.