Rarely does anyone feel as though they completely won in a divorce. The system is designed that way. Its a court of equity, and is to designed to do what's fair and in the best interests of the children. Bitterness and dislike towards the other spouse/parent is common. However, you as a parent are an adult. You celebrated your holidays when
you were a child, and hopefully it was a happy childhood, during which you enjoyed all the excitement and anticipation the holidays brought. Let your children do the same.
Your life, and especially their's, will be changed as a result of the divorce. Traditions will probably not be followed, including the normal holiday mornings, dinners and visits with relatives. If you feel disrupted, imagine how your kids feel. BUT DON'T let your negative feelings affect your children. DON'T let your dislike for their other parent, or the outcome of the divorce, make you do things that will harm them! Whether there is a court Order or Final Judgment of Divorce that resolves the issues of holiday parenting time (visitation), DON'T interfere with your children's desires to see their other parent during the holidays. They love both of their parents and, even though things won't be exactly like they were before the divorce, you can make the transition easier by cooperating with the other parent. Hurting the other parent, by interfering with their parenting time, only hurts your children. Most Courts in New Jersey will adopt a Children's Bill of Rights that may include the following:
BILL OF RIGHTS FOR CHILDREN IN DIVORCE AND DISSOLUTION ACTIONS
1. The right to be treated as important and separate human beings with unique feelings, needs, ideas, and desires, not existing solely to gratify the needs of their parents.
2. The right to not participate in the painful games parents play to hurt each other, or be put in the middle of their battles.
3. The right not to be a go-between or a message courier for their parents.
4. The right to a continuing, relaxed, and secure relationship with both parents.
5. The right to express love and affection for, and receive love and affection from, both parents.
6. The right to know that expressions of love between children and parents will not cause fear, disapproval, or other negative consequences.
7. The right to know that their parents decision to divorce is not their fault.
8. The right to know that it is not their responsibility to keep their parents together.
9. The right to continuing care and guidance from both parents.
10. The right to age appropriate answers to questions about the changing family relationships, without placing blame on either parent.
11. The right to know and appreciate what is good in each parent.
12. The right to be protected from hearing degrading or bad comments about either parent.
13. The right to be able to experience regular, consistent, and flexible shared parenting time with both parents, and the right to know the reason for changes in the parenting schedule.
14. The right to have neither parent interfere with, or undermine, parenting time with the other parent.
15. The right to not be forced to choose one parent over the other.
16. The right to express their feelings, concerns, and ideas about the divorce.
17. The right to remain a child without being asked to take on parental responsibilities or to be an adult friend or companion to either parent.
18. The right to the most adequate level of economic support that can be provided from the best efforts of both parents.
19. The right to continue ongoing positive relationships with the people (friends, neighbors, grandparents and extended family) who were an important part of their lives before parental divorce.
However, even if you haven't been to court, and such provisions haven't been imposed, for the sake of your children's mental and physical heath, you should conduct yourself in accordance with at least the above provisions. If your ex won't behave responsibly, you need to seek court intervention.
RANDY C. REDDEN