Vacations are among the most common sources of stress and conflict for divorced parents. Even former couples who have settled into a rhythm of co-parenting during the school year can find it difficult to coordinate vacations -- whether a long holiday weekend, spring and winter breaks or summer vacation.
Traveling with the kids (or even staying home and having local adventures with them) can be exhausting for the parent who has them. The other parent, however, often feels left out of what may become iconic memories for their kids.
Kids generally want to share their vacation adventures with both parents as much as possible. That's why it's essential for the vacationing parent and the parent back at home to make that easy and enjoyable for them.
If you're vacationing with your kids, encourage them to stay in touch with your co-parent. There are a multitude of ways to do that now, so unless you're in the middle of nowhere without Wi-Fi access, there's no reason why they can't call, text, email, Skype or at least post videos and photos on Facebook and Instagram daily.
As the parent at home, it's essential to encourage this as well. Don't express sadness that you're not there or tell them how lonely you are without them. That will just discourage them from sharing and make them feel guilty for having fun without you.
You can also encourage your kids to keep a journal during the trip. This can help them remember things they did or saw each day and people they met so they can share with their other parent. It's also a good keepsake for them. There are plenty of travel journals and apps designed for kids of all ages.
What If Your Co-Parent Doesn't Reciprocate?
If your co-parent doesn't encourage the same communication you have when he or she has the kids on the next vacation, don't stop doing it yourself. Remember that this is more for the kids than you. If you keep encouraging your kids to share their vacation memories with their other parent, eventually, your co-parent will likely do the same -- particularly if the kids want to.
If you feel that you're being shut out of your kids' time with their other parent to the point where it's a problem or you are having issues with your co-parent around planning vacations, talk with him or her about it. If you're unable to resolve the issue, you may want to seek some adjustments to your parenting plan. Your family law attorney can provide important guidance and assistance in adding detail to your plan.
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