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Do Joint Holiday Celebrations Spell Trouble Post-Divorce?

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When parents begin the divorce process, they soon realize the difficulty and reality of the task at hand.  One of the most difficult decisions they may encounter is dividing holidays and special occasions.  As holidays and special occasions tend to hold a special place in our memories, it can be difficult to face a change in traditions. Some parents might be tempted to agree to jointly celebrate certain holidays and celebrations.  For example, one parent might propose that birthday parties be held with both parents attending so the child has a single birthday party with both parents.  Parents may be tempted to go this route with the idea that it will maintain a sense of family and security for their children, as well as help them to feel less guilty about the divorce.

This type of agreement will only work if the parents get along and are able to work together; however, there are several considerations parents should make before entering into this type of agreement.  They must consider the reality of what will happen in the future, as it is very likely that each of them will move on and find another partner.  In addition, most parents who divorce will face some conflict in the future as issues arise regarding the children.  You may find yourself at odds with the other parent and then forced to “invite” the other parent into your new home for a birthday party or other event.  If forced to “invite” the other parent, the tension of the situation can be felt by all who attend the occasion.  Or worse, if you choose not invite the other parent, you may find yourself dragged into court by the other parent for not allowing them to attend the event.

Unfortunately there is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to parenting and divorce.  The right answer will depend on your personal situation.  Parents facing these issues should think long and hard before agreeing to joint celebrations.  Something to keep in mind, it is always easier to invite someone by choice, rather than by obligation.