For many after marrying their “soulmate”, they come to the heartbreaking realization that their once perfect partner instead of being their forever is actually an Oops. With children involved, one can never truly separate fully from an ex. This is why many find themselves spending holidays like July 4th together. This is instead of alternating and missing out on precious quality time with their children. Joint holidays can be emotional and hard. However, with tips straight from our clients, we can help ensure that the only thing blowing up at the BBQ is the fireworks.

Tip #1: Keep New Partners at Home

It can be extremely tempting to use a holiday as an opportunity to introduce the whole family to a new partner. However, this uncoupled dynamic is stressful enough without adding potential minefields to the mix. Renowned researcher Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., who conducted a 20-year study of children of divorce, concluded that most children find their parent’s courtship behaviors confusing and strange. Dr. Ahrons noted that it can take years for a child to adjust to the split and the introduction to someone new should be done slowly. This means small interactions alone with the child before jumping into a large gathering. Even if it has been years, and you feel ready, your child may not be. This is a discussion and topic that should be addressed in a safe and intimate space not while scooping potato salad at the buffet table. 

Tip #2: Set Reasonable Expectations

If this is the first joint holiday, it is important to discuss beforehand with the Oops if there is a possibility of continuing combined celebrations. Children may have expectations that their parents will continue to celebrate together. Also, kids could confuse holidays together as a step towards reconciliation not redefining the new family dynamic. Therefore, kids may assume Thanksgiving and other winter holidays will also be jointly celebrated. It is important to have discussions with your ex before July 4th and have clear, defined lines of what this interaction means, not only for your current situation but also for the future. 

Tip #3: Counting

Even with the best of intentions, interactions with an Oops could trigger the worst in us. They are an ex for a reason after all. This is why experts suggest mentally counting to the number three before responding after a triggering event. Scientific research supports that counting is an excellent method to de-escalate anger and remain zen even when an ex irritates you. If counting sounds cheesy, another tried and true response is simply walking away.

Joint holidays are a tricky balancing act. However, this July 4th keep an open-mind along with a positive perspective. A few hours with the Oops even with possible annoyances could be beneficial. This could help lay the groundwork for a better co-parenting relationship that everyone will benefit from for years to come. 

For more great co-parenting tips from the dedicated professionals at The Rebecca L Palmer Law Group and our fabulous clients, check out some of our other great articles like What Does it Take to Coparent? Or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of new posts.