Summer is on the horizon and vacation planning is in full swing. When you’re divorced or separated, family vacations get complicated. At one point or another, you may have asked yourself “Should my Ex and I take our children on a vacation together?” It’s a fair question and honorable that you’re trying to keep some normalcy for the children. It does feel as if every divorced celebrity couple is taking to social media to profess their good-naturedness about their demise of their marriage with “vacation selfies.” As blended families become more commonplace, many dynamics are changing and creating a new set of norms. But before you hop a plane to the Caribbean with your ex, ask yourself these questions to see if co-vacationing is right for you.
Will this confuse the kids?
We are all for peaceful divorces and respectful co-parenting, but you have to consider: Is it confusing for kids to see their divorced parents getting along well enough to vacation together? Are they wondering, in the midst of all that family togetherness, why you two couldn’t just stay together? Or whether, just maybe, you’ll get married again? In the end, we think co-vacationing is easier for teenagers to process than younger children. It also depends on how long you’ve been divorced. If enough time has passed and there’s some maturity, it might work. But with younger children, still perhaps in elementary school, they are still processing these new family dynamics. It’s best to not send them on an emotional rollercoaster.
Can you afford this?
If you decide co-vacationing is right for you and your ex, then it’s time to consider the financial side. Who will pay for what? Will you split everything? Just the activities with the children? Think back to your marriage. Did you and your spouse disagree over money then? If there was some friction back then, a family vacation will only open up old wounds.
Discuss finances and budgets beforehand. Recognize that your common goal is to ensure your children foster good memories. But also make sure your children are aware of these rules on vacation so there are no disagreements when you or your ex have to say “no.” Will you have snacks at the pool? Can we buy souvenirs? Will you eat at expensive restaurants? Finances are certainly one of the biggest disagreements among couples, so recognizing and respecting the fact that it will likely be harder for divorced couples on vacation is crucial.
Can you handle this emotionally?
It may seem that these celebrity couples are handling co-vacationing with grace and dignity, but we’re only see a carefully curated picture of their lives. Yes, this trip could be good for your children, but is it healthy for you? How fresh is the divorce? Has your ex-spouse remarried? Does he/she have stepchildren? Are you prepared to see all of their newfound happiness unfold in a tropical paradise? If there’s too much bitterness or resentment before you leave, chances are it won’t get better wherever you go on vacation. Be honest with yourself and your ex-spouse, emotionally and financially. After all, the real purpose of a family vacation is to relax and have fun.