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How co-parents can share in celebrating their kids' milestones

When parents divorce, celebrations of major events and minor milestones can become fraught with anxiety. Whether it's birthdays, spelling bees, dance recitals or soccer tournaments, parents want to be there for their children. Sometimes, divorced parents have difficulty being in the same place together, particularly if there are former in-laws and new significant others attending as well.

A good way for co-parents to ease their way back into these celebrations that are so important to kids is to start small. Learn to celebrate the everyday victories and achievements of your kids' lives together, even if you're doing it across two households. This can include straight A's on a report card, getting braces off, making the swim team and hundreds of other moments that are part of growing up.

After separation or divorce, these events often don't occur when both parents are present. Therefore, it's essential that kids feel comfortable sharing them with the parent who wasn't there.

They shouldn't have to be fearful that mom will be jealous if they tell her they skied on an advanced slope for the first time on a vacation with dad. They shouldn't be worried that they'll hurt dad's feelings if they tell him they won a debate tournament where only mom was in attendance.

For parents, that may mean putting aside your own feelings and letting your child joyfully share photos, videos and other memories of a celebration you weren't there for. Conversely, parents should encourage their kids to share their accomplishments as soon as possible with the parent not in attendance.

If you're using a co-parenting app, it may have a place for parents to maintain a journal where they can keep each other informed of accomplishments and milestones without having to communicate directly. This can help both of them feel less left out without adding the stress of needing to directly talk about each day's events.

As parents get comfortable sharing the everyday "celebrations" of their children's lives, they can gradually become more comfortable with sharing the larger ones, like graduations and weddings.

If you're concerned that you are missing out on these things, it's good to talk to your co-parent if you can. You may also want to talk with your family law attorney about potential amendments to your parenting plan that can help.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Allowing Celebration to Bridge Two Houses," accessed Feb. 09, 2018

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