Thanksgiving is over and you just wrote the story of the experience your children just lived. When they look back as adults, what will they remember? Frantic gulping down of a feast so they could be ready for pickup by their other parent? Gastrointestinal upset, not from too much turkey and pie, but knowing their parents are about to encounter one another and fireworks are likely? Or great family time and food with mom at her house and the same at dad’s?
Maybe you’re feeling guilt now as you read this. I hope not. (Let me assure you that I could regale you with stories about my failures as a single parent). But you have another holiday fast approaching and an opportunity to do it more intentionally and thoughtfully. What story will your children tell about Christmas this year?
It might help to remember that from your child’s view, if his parents are able to settle their holiday disputes (often that means one parent being extremely flexible) he will simply enjoy Christmas traditions, no longer worried about his parents’ friction. If you are the parent that has to do more than your fair share of comprising, know that kids grow up and evaluate the differences between their parents. They’ll understand who was reasonable and who wasn’t. As adults, they are more likely to choose to spend time with the parent who was flexible over the parent who made their lives miserable. The parent who was flexible has a greater chance of a life-long relationship with their children than does the parent who failed to minimize conflict.
This year, if you are a separated parent, give your children the gift they truly deserve, peace on earth and goodwill towards all. Settle your dispute in favor of your kids versus your preferred outcome. Freedom from conflict will last a lifetime. Winning a battle? Maybe a few days. What memories will your children store about their holidays this year?
Wishing you wisdom,