Vacations and Divorce: From the Voice of the Child

By: Colette Fortin, Fairway Divorce Solutions Waterloo-Wellington

So many articles and books have been written about separation and divorce, and many times the authors are the outside professionals who deal with divorce (psychologists, counsellors, financial advisors, lawyers). As 2 young professionals who work in the divorce industry, and who are both children of divorce, we are excited to share with you our blog series, which we call: “From the Voice of the Child”. We are Sarah Whyte and Sarah Lessard, children of divorce, and in this series we will share insights about divorce from the child’s perspective to continue our mission to help people remain more amicable through separation. 

Growing up with divorced parents who had a deep desire to travel certainly brought its difficulties. Our parenting schedule was alternating weeks, and my older brothers and I often travelled with our parents in the summer and during holiday breaks throughout the school year. Summer posed more difficulties than holiday breaks, but both situations had their own barriers.

Travelling in the summer was restricted by our parenting schedule, but that did not stop us from travelling with each of our parents on the weeks we spent with them.

The key to travelling when in a shared parenting arrangement is allowing reasonable flexibility for the other parent to travel with the children. Try to understand that it is important for children and young adults to experience as much as possible, especially when the opportunity presents itself.

  1. Allow reasonable flexibility with scheduling.
    Depending on the destination and the flight schedule, it may be optimal to allow your ex-spouse to take the children on a different day than the schedule may be. This also puts less strain on the children, as they will not need to feel guilty for the schedule being adapted and for spending time with the alternate parent. Discussing the itinerary with the alternate parent will also allow for equal travel experiences for the children.
  1. Show support by taking an interest in the trip.
    Perhaps ask what your children are most excited about. This helps to ensure that the children don’t have any guilty feelings about being far away from you.
  1. Stay connected.
    Thanks to the rapid technological advances and increase in social and messaging media applications, it is much easier to stay connected with your children than ever before. If the children have access to a device and Wi-Fi, you can always message them to say hello while they are away (this is largely beneficial for when your children are away for a longer period of time, or travelling on their own/with friends/studying abroad).
  1. Be willing to sign necessary travel documentation in a timely manner.
    This makes travelling easier on the other parent. If the children are travelling with the alternate parent across a border, documentation proving permission by both parents is often necessary.

Each year as a Christmas gift, my mother would take my brothers and I to Myrtle Beach for a week in the summer. So, every summer we would venture to South Carolina for a week and create long-lasting memories. My father would show support by asking a bit about the trip, and what we were looking forward to doing. Just showing an interest in the trip shows children that they do not need to feel guilty for travelling with only one parent.

Travelling can be difficult when going through separation and divorce as funds can get tied up. But when the opportunity of travel does arise, keeping these things in mind can make travelling for the children and alternate parent much easier.

It is difficult to spend time away from your children, but know that your children will thank you for allowing them to travel and experience new things. It is important to remember how making authentic memories for children, young or old is what really matters. The best thing you can do for them, whether it is travel or something else, is to be supportive and take an interest in what they are excited about.