As adults, most would agree that the summer months with vacations and family reunions were more exciting as a child. Back then, it was difficult to understand why Dad yelled at the tailgater just ten minutes into a five-hour road trip as Mom stared blankly out the window in silence. Being the creator of your family’s good times is not always easy.
Now, you are in their shoes, often filling the role of both parents as you navigate the world of divorce. The summer is here, it is officially family reunion month, and the change in your family dynamics is painfully apparent.
4 tips to get through family reunions (and even have fun)
Establishing a parenting plan in Washington State is necessary so each partner and your child has a navigational toolkit of guidelines on how life will unfold, including those sometimes awkward family reunions. Speaking of navigational toolkits, here are four tips to help you get through (and even enjoy) that upcoming family reunion.
1. Show up when expected
Because of my work, a friend often shares with me how he believes his childhood would have felt more secure had the encounters been less hostile between his divorcing parents. Hindsight is a valuable tool that can help you prevent painful actions and develop a robust and lasting relationship with your child, enabling you to approach National Family Reunion Month with a gentler perspective and lasting good memories.
When a Parenting Plan focused on what is best for the child is in place, there are fewer surprises and disappointments for everyone. When you intend to show up for your child, even when attending your spouse’s family reunion or having them attend yours, encounters will be more manageable with a parenting plan.
It may feel less natural, but discussing how long you each intend to stay, if your child is staying or leaving with you, and determining topics that are off-limits in conversations with other relatives establishes positive expectations. Addressing these additional difficult topics in your Washington State Parenting Plan can help you advocate for the time you never want to lose as a parent:
- A visitation schedule, including holidays, special dates like family reunions, and acceptable travel and vacation destinations
- Emergency protocols and medical decisions
- Educational decisions and religious upbringing
- Preferred communication methods between parents
- The expected behavior of each partner at school, social, and family functions
- Resolution methods for unexpected changes in itineraries
2. Remember why you are there
Sometimes it is easier to skip family reunion months, not face the awkwardness, and be okay with letting a partner down by not showing up. After all, you are no longer a couple. But ultimately, the reason you show up for the problematic encounters and conversations with your estranged spouse is for your child.
They will remember the time you did not show up, and they may never know the reason for your absence, even after decades of wondering. Not only is it critical to establish stability in your child’s world, but a child custody lawyer in Washington State may examine your participation in your child’s life when creating a parenting plan to convey your dependability and intent to be present.
3. Find the favorite uncle
The favorite uncle, aunt, or cousin at the family reunion always brings jokes and laughter to a strained encounter. Seek that person out and spend some time with them. And, there is always the opposite personality looking for gossip, making the conversations awkward and adding a little fuel to the fire, which can turn into a blaze before the day ends.
It is okay to politely move on from conversations that aim for discourse. By now, you know the crowd and where the least amount of disharmony exists.
Establish with your partner what topics are okay to discuss and what needs to be left for discussion with your Washington State divorce attorney. Yes, you may be extremely hurt and angry because your spouse seems to be getting preferential treatment in the divorce, but ultimately your words and actions for friends and foes to witness at the family reunion can be used to benefit or hinder your case. And if those touchy conversations surface, you will already have a plan for what to say when backed into a corner.
4. Take a lighter approach
Life can get incredibly challenging as an adult and often feel unnecessarily complicated. Taking a lighter approach and considering your child’s perspective can ease the tensions with a challenging spouse and create a more relaxed environment when gathering. Your child will have positive childhood memories and years from now, the family reunion may not even cross your mind.
Finding perspective and support when you feel you are losing out as a parent can make a difference in going forward confidently.
Find an ally in Divorce Lawyers for Men
As a father that wants to show up for their child, an ally is available at Divorce Lawyers for Men. When you call (360) 866-7393, you will find a team ready to support you and help you fight for your rights in a Washington State divorce.