This past Sunday, The New York Times included an essay by a divorced mom who spent a week vacation with her ex-husband and their children. She describes a magical time at the beach with respectful parents and happy kids. Hundreds of readers commented. Some said that the divorced couple is lucky that they have developed such a good post-divorce relationship that this trip was possible. Others argued that the joint vacation creates unhealthy confusion for their children who might be wishing that their parents would reconcile.
For me, the essay and the various responses reinforced what we have found as divorce mediators. Every family is different, and each family needs to create a future plan that works for them.
At Westfield Mediation, LLC, we work with divorcing couples to create parenting plans outlining where the children will be spending their time during the year – including the day-to-day plan as well as holidays. We talk about school, activities, vacations, college, and religion. Because children’s needs change over time, we include in the plan opportunities for the parents to meet and review and revise, when necessary. We also create financial plans for supporting the children over time.
During our sessions, we encourage parents to try to work together and to focus on the children’s interests when making these parenting decisions. Of course, not every couple will want to continue to vacation together after they are divorced. But couples who can create a supportive, less argumentative relationship with each other will be doing what is best for their kids.