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Guest Perspective by Barbara E. McNamara

Co-Parenting 101: Seven Things To Do This ChristmasBarbara E. McNamara, CFLS - Guest Perspective

December 22 – 1. Give a Gift. If you have kids together, take pictures of your kids in a fun setting, like at the beach or at the park. Develop the picture, frame it, and give it to your kids to give to their Father/Mother. It’s not about you anymore – it’s about fostering a relationship for your child with the other parent.

2. Just Pay It. If you are court ordered to pay Child Support, pay it! Again, it’s not about you, it’s about making sure your children will have enough, especially at Christmas time. It’s not an “optional expense,” it’s a court order. I realize your children should not know whether you pay your Child Support or not. However, if you are not paying your support, chances are, they know.

3. Do not alienate the children. Make an effort not to say anything negative about your Ex in front of the kids. Sure, you may hate him/her still, but your kids don’t need to know this. Make sure your significant other and extended family do not say anything negative either. Shelter the children from your true emotions about their parent. They will thank you for this when they are adults.

4. Quality time. Make sure to spend quality time with your kids. Don’t just “be home” while you are all engaged in separate activities. Truly “be present.” Play a board game, play cards with them, read to them, take them to see Christmas lights. Turn off all of the electronic the screens for a while and enjoy each other!

5. Say Thank You! Take time to really thank the teachers, the babysitters, and the day care people who watch your kids while you are at work. You could not do it without them, right? A Starbucks Gift card is not expected, but it’s one way of expressing gratitude.

6. Remember the reason for the season. Happiness is having gratitude for the things you do have, not what you don’t have. In these challenging economic times, perhaps the blessing which lies therein is focusing on the people you love, not the stuff. If you can’t afford to buy everything on the children’s wish list, it’s OK, as long as they know you how much you love them.

7. Offer Your Time. If you are the “non-custodial” parent, offer to take the kids for a few hours so that the other parent can get his/her Christmas shopping done. You might be surprised how just making the offer, and not “a demand,” will open up lines of communication.

Barbara E. McNamara is an associate at Brandmeyer, Gilligan, Dockstader and Davidson, LLP, in Long Beach, CA.