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Summer break and co-parenting: Anticipate and avoid conflict

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Family Law |

Summer break is a time that most children eagerly anticipate. Now that they’re home, they expect to enjoy long sunny days and fun activities. For co-parents, achieving the kids’ hearts’ desires isn’t always straightforward. Summer break can also inspire a unique set of challenges when kids are moving from one household to the other.

Managing shared parenting responsibilities and ensuring children have an enjoyable break while maintaining a harmonious co-parenting relationship can feel like juggling too many balls. However, with thoughtful planning and open communication, co-parents can anticipate and effectively minimize conflict during summer break.

Scheduling showdowns

One of the biggest challenges that co-parents may face during summer break has to do with the holiday routines and schedules. Naturally, each parent may have different ideas of how the kids should spend their summer break.

For instance, one parent might have beach vacation plans while the other prefers that the kids go to summer camp. Coordinating these activities while also aligning custody schedules can be a challenge. Speaking of custody arrangements, something as simple as establishing handoff times can be a source of tension. One parent might want a stricter schedule, while the other prefers more flexibility.

The solution for scheduling during summer break can be as simple as creating a detailed summer parenting plan well in advance. This plan should define:

  • Start and end times for custody periods
  • Key activities for the kids during summer break
  • Coordination for special events
  • Parental obligations for childcare needs

Despite sufficient planning, co-parents should remain flexible and acknowledge that some plans may need to change. Being prepared to compromise on agreed-upon schedules can help avoid conflict and enable co-parents to prioritize the children’s best interests.

Differing parenting styles

When kids are at school, they follow predetermined routines, meaning they always know what to do at what time. However, during summer break, they enjoy more unstructured time, which can highlight differences in parenting styles. One parent might want the children to continue operating within a structured routine, while the other might desire for the kids to be let off the hook during the holiday.

A suitable way to avoid conflicts over different parenting styles is first to acknowledge that the kids may benefit from experiencing both approaches. Co-parents should also discuss and agree on basic guidelines for the summer.

Spending time with kids during summer break as co-parents can present challenges that those who experience conventional family setups don’t generally experience. Thankfully, with appropriate legal guidance, co-parents can establish functional arrangements for the summer holidays and minimize conflict along the way.