In many households, the holidays are stressful family affairs. This is especially problematic after a divorce, and it is even trickier for blended families during the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For many blended families, the everyday efforts of managing a family among more than one household is complicated, especially during the holiday season. Families with step-children face the challenge of keeping old family customs and creating new ones for holiday festivities.
This year, holiday plans are even more complicated for blended families because of public health constraints and government recommendations to limit holiday gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19. When the public safety guidelines recommend restricting holiday gatherings to only members of one’s own home, what does that mean for household members with child custody arrangements? Parenting experts, health authorities, and family support professionals offer no shortage of advice for parents and blended families.
Plan Well in Advance
Initiate planning as soon as possible to provide all participants time to voice their concerns. The more time there is to discuss options, the less pressure everyone will feel during the holidays. Planning ahead will ensure that everyone will enjoy the holiday season without more stress.
Receive Input from the Children
Older children will have their own expectations and preferences for how holiday celebrations should play out. Listening to the children will help them adjust to the divorce and help them understand that cooperation from everyone is important. A child can also make suggestions about holiday activities. Creating new traditions can be helpful.
Consider the Health of Older and Vulnerable Family Members
This year, many families are forgoing visits with older and vulnerable loved ones to avoid possibly exposing them to the COVID-19 virus. Many families will be disappointed, but choosing to refrain from spending Christmas or other holiday celebrations with a big group of relatives this year is safer. Blended families with many members should take the same approach by eliminating multiple visits that put everyone at risk of exposure to the virus.
Some blended families may be able to arrange a merged get-together that includes all siblings, step-siblings, co-parents, and stepparents. However, combining more than one household does come with risks. To mitigate the possibility of COVID-19 exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends planning holiday event outdoors. If cold weather and other concerns require festivities to be celebrated indoors, cracking a window will allow airflow to disperse any airborne contagions. Other strategies to prevent transmission include social distancing, proper mask use, and frequent handwashing.
It is important to be open and realistic about safety compliance expectations. Navigating social and interpersonal relations during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for many people this year. Delicate family dynamics can further complicate matters. Some family members might be more cautious than others, but it is important to enforce safety protocols. Getting everyone on board with the safety measures will ensure everyone has a safe holiday.
Use Technology to Celebrate the Holidays
Large gatherings of extended family members are strongly discouraged by health experts. The best way to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is to arrange a time to meet up virtually. Family members can use many online meeting platforms to celebrate the holiday this year.
Remain Flexible About Holiday Plans
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to have flexible plans because circumstances can change. Comfort levels with certain activities will vary within the same family. Likewise, some family members may be adamant that holiday traditions must endure, despite the current heath situation. Creating a communal and festive holiday atmosphere is much easier if all participants are in agreement.
Can I Adjust My Child Custody Agreement?
Parents who are planning to divorce have many concerns about the ways the change to the family dynamic will affect their kids. Many of these concerns can be addressed by a clear understanding of the provisions made in a comprehensive and enforceable divorce agreement. If parents wish to make adjustments to their parenting plan for the holidays, they should contact a lawyer right away. A lawyer can make adjustments while keeping the children’s best interests in mind.
Towson Family Law Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Blended Families with Child Custody Agreements
Our compassionate Towson family law lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC help clients with child custody arrangements during the holiday season. Our legal team can help you construct a workable child custody arrangement. Complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150 for a free consultation today. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.