Q – I have a big holiday family event coming up but it’s not my scheduled weekend. Although we’ve had our moments usually my Ex and I have a pretty good co-parenting relationship however, this time she isn’t willing to change the schedule. My kids are older and I have considered asking them to speak with their mom about the situation. Quite honestly, I am really upset that the kids may miss seeing my family, lots of relatives will be there that my kids usually don’t get to see. Any suggestions about how to resolve this issue?
A- It sounds like you have done a commendable job creating a good workable co-parenting relationship which means there is more here at stake than just where your kids spend their holiday.
Even though your children are older, I would suggest not directly involving them in a discussion with Mom. First, including the children not only puts them in the middle, it also may leave your Ex feeling like you’ve stacked the deck. Ultimately involving the children sets her up to be the bad guy if she sticks to her guns regarding her holiday plans.
In turn, how will you feel if she returns the favor in the future by offering the children alternate plans when it’s your scheduled time with them? Even though the focus of the decision should be the kids, they won’t benefit from being caught between the two of you.
In terms of addressing the holiday conflict with your Ex, you may want to consider focusing on your successes first. Think about setting aside a time to meet face to face (if that’s the best mode of communication between the two of you) and let her know how much you appreciate your parenting relationship. If you haven’t already, explain the circumstances and ask for her help in resolving the problem. Tell her you understand how important it is to her to maintain the holiday schedule and you don’t want to be disrespectful of her feelings. However, for the children’s sake, you’d really appreciate her help in coming up with some creative options that would offer the children an opportunity to have some time with family members they don’t see often. Ask if she has any ideas about how the two of you could work together to resolve the issue. Be sure to give her time to share her thoughts and perspective.
Before meeting you may want to brainstorm a few creative ideas of your own in case your Ex comes up empty handed. Focus on finding middle ground. Would it be possible to have them the day before or the day after? Is there another way you could compromise by giving her additional time on another holiday or important event? Can you spend time with the children after her family celebration? You may also want to mention that as the children get older, you both will have to become more flexible because your children will be making plans of their own.
If for some reason she’s adamant about sticking to the holiday schedule, take a higher road and don’t hang her out to dry with your kids. Remember you can still create some special memories for your kids even if they’re not with you for the holiday. Consider making a video and interviewing family members or ask relatives to tell family stories you can share with kids at a later date.