Parenting During the Holidays after Divorce: Naughty or Nice?

A guest post from Angie Hallier

The holidays can be a rough time for divorced families. Traditions that were established for the family during the marriage inevitably change. One parent may be without the children for a part or all of the holidays, and there may be less money to go around than there was when the family lived in one household. But the last thing you want is for your children to have bad holiday memories to grow up with – memories of fighting, anxiety, stress, and guilt. Believe me, bad holiday memories will stay with children into their adulthood. I recently met a successful TV talk show anchor who told me he never had a happy Christmas until after he was married. His childhood was filled with horrible memories of divorced parents ruining Christmas by fighting every year over who would have the children, and then acting so poorly the children felt horribly guilty going to the other parent’s house. He said he and his siblings actually had to split up once so each parent could have “some” of them.
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Successful Co-Parenting + In Faith and In Doubt


Karen Bonnell, author of The Co-Parents’ Handbook.
Topic:
Raising well-adjusted, resilient, and resourceful kids in a two-home family
Issues: Building a mutually respectful co-parenting relationship; keeping children at the forefront while protecting them from adult conflict and concerns; helping children build resilience and competence in the face of family change; successful strategies and protocols for living in a two-home family.




Dale McGowan, author of In Faith and In Doubt.
Topic:
How religious believers and nonbelievers can create strong marriages and loving families.
Issues: Negotiation tips to set the stage for harmonious relationships; dealing with pressure from extended family; helping kids make their own choices about religious identity; handling holidays, churchgoing, baptism, circumcision, religious literacy.

Sometimes Being “Good Enough” Is Plenty

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a newly divorced single father. I hear a lot about how children in divorced families have all sorts of behavioral problems, do worse in school, abuse drugs, are depressed and anxious, and on and on. It’s scaring the heck out of me and makes me think that no matter what I do, my kids are doomed. I want to be an amazing dad and give my kids the best possible life. Isn’t there something I can do?

A: I get this question a lot and wish there was some way to get the media to quit portraying children in divorced families as self-destructive, failure-bombs waiting to explode. The reality is that kids whose parents have split (whether by divorce or the breakup of a never-married couple), can do just as well as any other kids. There are definitely some obstacles, but they can be overcome. Here are a few ideas that will help.
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Debunking Myths about Marriage and Divorce


Shaunti Feldhahn, author of The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages and The Good News about Marriage.
Topic:
Debunking myths about marriage and divorce and discovering the little things that make a big difference.
Issues: The truth about marriage (most are happy) and divorce (the actual divorce rate is nowhere near 50%); improving your marriage by doing completely un-intuitive things: go to bed mad, keep score, don’t tell it like it is, and more.

Quick Answers to Most Important Parenting Questions + Secrets of Happy Marriages

David Elkind, author of Parenting on the Go.
Topic:
Quick answers to parents’ most important questions, birth to age 6, A to Z.
Issues: Attention deficit disorder; back-to-school blues; childproofing the computer; empathy in children; time outs; manners and morals; sibling rivalry, and much more.


Shaunti Feldhahn, author of The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages and The Good News about Marriage.
Topic:
Debunking myths about marriage and divorce and discovering the little things that make a big difference.
Issues: The truth about marriage (most are happy) and divorce (the actual divorce rate is nowhere near 50%); improving your marriage by doing completely un-intuitive things: go to bed mad, keep score, don’t tell it like it is, and more.

Co-Parenting After The Divorce

bob kornitzer

A guest post by Bob Kornitzer

bob kornitzerCo-parenting following a divorce (or following the split-up of a non-married couple) presents unique challenges to both parents; but especially to the dad who is now assuming an active parenting role in functions that were previously the sole domain of mom. A good example rests in dad’s interactions with his child’s pediatrician and the child’s health-related needs. Not only is active involvement in the child’s day-to-day medical needs a foreign subject to many newly divorced dads, but there are unique legal issues that I see frequently in my practice as family law attorney that cannot be ignored. For my illustration, I am assuming that dad has joint legal custody (involvement in major decisions involving the health, safety and welfare of the child) and also physical parenting time with the child.

Dad must keep in mind that he needs to be pro-active in learning everything about the child’s health-related needs. This means understanding any special problems of the child, researching those problems, joining the child at medical appointments and being part of the child’s medical decision process. A mom who is used to solely handling this role may not take kindly to what she perceives to be an intrusion into her historic parenting role. She may resist and either actively or passively leave dad out of the “loop”.

It is up to the newly active dad to sometimes bite his tongue, be diplomatic, but be persistent and consistent in participating in the child’s medical needs. Dad has the legal and moral right to help care for the child’s needs, but if dad is not consistent and active, he will effectively erode and minimize his role in the future. It is one thing to talk the talk, but dad must walk the walk.

The importance of cooperative consistency plays out in critical custodial issues. For instance, the more active a dad is in being involved with attending pediatric appointments, the more he will be recognized by the child, the mother, the pediatrician and potentially by the courts as a necessary ongoing component of the child’s life.

Keep in mind that even though I am using medical involvement as my example, this extends to all areas of a child’s needs such as education, sports, activities and religious training. Many divorcing dads who fought so hard to have the right to be active in their child’s lives then turn around and effectively give up that right by reverting to an uninvolved status that may have been prevalent during the marriage. This undermines dad’s legal strength in the future if a) he is seeking additional parenting time or b) mom is seeking to reduce dad’s parenting time. Very critically and not understood by most dads is that being a very involved dad may be the most effective method of preventing your former spouse from relocating to a geographically distant location with the child. When it comes to having meaningful rights to be an active parent, “use it or risk losing it” may be the mantra that dad needs to keep repeating to himself.

Mr. Kornitzer is a partner at the law firm of Pashman Stein and the Chair of its Family Law Department.  His practice focuses in all aspects of family law including divorce litigation, mediation, arbitration, post-judgment litigation, custody, relocation, domestic violence, premarital agreements, assets protection agreements, grandparents rights, spousal and child support. Mr. Kornitzer can be reached at 201-488-8200 or at rkornitzer@pashmanstein.com.