How to find better ways to communicate during the holiday periods

Are you turning a blind eye to arguments this Easter?  Find better ways to communicate during this holiday period, especially if you are having to navigate COVID lockdowns.

The Easter Break is only a hop away and while for some parents it means planning easter egg hunts or managing in-laws, for others it can cause dread just thinking of “getting through” another holiday.

Holidays occur every year, which makes it crucial to have a good parenting agreement in place to prevent added stress during these holiday periods.  This is even more important in today’s climate of COVID-19 and snap lockdown decisions.

Parenting Plans or Consent Orders

So where do you begin?  The first step for parents with Consent Orders or Parenting Plans in place is to go back to the source.  It is important to remember that the written agreement in place is not for your benefit, but rather for the children’s benefit.  The orders or plans will set out who the children spend time with over Easter, where changeover will occur and what level of communication there will be between a parent and the children.

Children often carry the weight of their parents’ arguments on their shoulders and whilst they may laugh and carry on, deep down they may be experiencing some fear or guilt that the upcoming period will result in further arguments between the two people they love the most.

Parenting Orders and Plans are the foundation of a good co-parenting relationship, and it is important to remember that it is being implemented as a tool to move forward with what is in the children’s best interest.

Most orders or plans provide a line that says, “as agreed between the parents in writing, failing which …” OR “unless otherwise agreed between the parents, …”.  This means that if your order or plan includes this line that you and your co-parent have the flexibility of coming to an alternative arrangement to what is provided for in the orders or plan if it is agreed.  If there is no agreement, then the Order or Plan must be followed.

Communicating Change

The best way to come to an agreement is to give the other parent sufficient notice and reason, especially if a change to the order or plan is being requested.  During the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is useful to adopt a more flexible approach especially if snap lockdowns are being ordered or states are re-opening after a long time.  Most important, though, is respecting the decision of the other parent if the other parent has declined your request for a change and respecting the order or plan (if one is in place).  Whilst it is not always easy to hear ‘no’, it is important for the future of your co-parenting relationship to respect the previous agreement that has been put in place.  If this agreement is no longer reasonably practical, we recommend you contact Shanahan Family law for a free 20-minute case assessment.

3 Practical Pointers

Communication is the oxygen to any relationship, whether that be a romantic, co-parenting or a relationship with your children.

As far as possible, your children need to see and hear that you and the co-parent are on the same page.

To avoid conflict or confusion down the track, the following three simple but powerful pointers will assist your communication with the co-parent:

  1. Do not discuss adult matters or future plans in front of your children.
  2. Do not use your children as messengers.
  3. Keep your children’s best interest in the forefront of your mind.

Whilst these three pointers seem easy, they go a long way in cementing a path forward and will help you to avoid pitfalls down the track.

Talking about Traditions

Prior to separation, children became accustomed to spending Easter together as a family.  If you and the co-parent are at a level where you can communicate about the children, it can sometimes be beneficial to discuss how the family celebrated Easter in the previous years and how can you carry the tradition forward now.  It is also worth considering any views the children have expressed and how much weight gets placed on those views.

Often the use of a parenting application such as Our Family Wizard and a calendar application such as Time Tree are useful in assisting parents with communication and being on the same page.

At Shanahan Family Law, we can assist you with compliance with Court Orders, varying Court Orders, or getting together an agreement between you and your co-parent if no Consent Order or Parenting plan yet exists.

We wish you a Happy and Safe Easter Period.

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