Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Around the corner Christmas, Hanukka and New Years. Vacations and days off from school, all work to alter the routine parenting schedule. These times bring joy, but are also fodder for confusion, anxiety, stress, overwhelm and lastly-court battles over the holiday and vacation access. Let's stop the madness. If your kids could really tell you what they want and how they feel, I bet it would go something like this:
1) I love you both, mom and dad. I love you both the same. Stop making me choose who I love more. I know you don't say to me, who do you love? but I feel the pressure just the same. I want to see you both over the holidays. You are both important to me. Please let me go to see my dad/mom without having to feel guilty for it. Please let me go and allow me to enjoy myself.
2) Don't cry when I leave, or act like it's been forever since the last time you saw me when I return. Smile, feel good about me going to see mom/dad. When you feel good, I feel good. When you cry, worry or overstress and anticipate the worst, I feel that. It makes me feel bad. It makes me feel like I'm not allowed to enjoy myself when I'm with my other side of the family. It makes me feel like a traitor because I don't want to betray you or hurt you.
Stop, you don't want me to feel like a traitor do you? You love me, right? So let me be happy and enjoy my time with both of you. Don't worry about me. If you worry, keep it to yourself. My shoulders are too small and I'm not big enough to carry your stress.
3) Please don't make me your spy either. This hurts. Don't question me to death about how I spent my time and if I had fun or enjoyed myself. How about this- just assume that I did have fun and enjoy myself. You will know if I didn't.
4) Don't compete for me. You may feel like you won the competition if you buy the "better" gift, or have more time with me, but you really didn't win anything; especially me. I know you love me no matter what you buy or how much time you have with me. It's annoying when you try to win me over and it hurts my feelings. It makes me think there is something wrong with the other parent, or something wrong with liking the other parent's gift or time spent with the other parent. That's not fair to me.
Plus, I need you to act like an adult. When you do this, you act like a child and you don't follow your own advice. You always tell me to be nice and respectful and thankful; Well shouldn't you be that way too?
5) Remember, this is my childhood. Do you remember yours? Do you want to repeat the bad or create good memories? I want to look back on my life with a feeling that I was loved and supported 100% by both of you. I want to look back on my childhood and have respect for you and appreciation for how you honored and allowed me to have a great relationship with my other parent. Please know, that the more you allow me to be me and respect me, I will respect and honor you. The better my relationship is with mom/dad, the better it will be with you.
Please remember me first this holiday season. Stop fighting and allow me to love you both equally.
Your baby girl/boy.