Holidays and family gatherings this year will have to be different because of COVID-19.
During this pandemic, we run into the problem where one parent is very concerned about wearing masks, disinfecting every surface, social distancing, and not leaving the house except if absolutely necessary, and the other parent may be more nonchalant and less focused on maintaining the same safety protocols. This can create a big conflict.
Holiday traditions only add to these potential conflicts and increase the need for cooperation.
One parent may have a large extended family who always gets together on Christmas Eve and they want that tradition to continue. If you all live close enough to safely gather this could be acceptable, however, it is important to think about how this could affect on your co-parenting relationship. Does the other parent feel that you should not take the unnecessary risk of getting your large family together? There could still be a celebration via video conferencing without endangering the health of those attending. People today are doing weddings, christenings, baby showers and bridal showers via Zoom or finding other creative ways to still celebrate.
My suggestion would be for the parent who wants to have an in-person large family gathering to cooperate a little more with the parent concerned about exposure to the virus.
For example, I am mediating with parents who live in California and have a 4-year old child. The mother’s parents live in Michigan and the maternal grandfather is undergoing cancer treatment which is not going well. The mother wanted the father’s agreement that if the grandfather took a turn for the worse, she could immediately jump on a plane with their 4-year-old and fly to Michigan to be with the grandfather in case he should pass away. The father is in the high-risk category and is worried about the 4-year-old getting on a plane to Michigan and potentially being exposed himself to COVID-19 or possibly bringing the virus back to California and exposing the father. We had two mediation sessions on this topic and in the end, they each made some compromises and reached an agreement.
This holiday season maybe need to be different and socially distant.
Cooperation will set a better tone for the future. 2020 has been challenging enough for everyone, we should try not to make this holiday season more stressful than it already is.