Summer is the longest school holiday of the year and parents who hitherto have been ‘short-changed’ in the child contact department feel, that now is their opportunity to spend real, quality, uninterrupted time with their child. Now, due to the length of the holiday, they can even manage a two week break to take them away. Is this wonderful? Not to the parent, seething with resentment that a holiday with the ex, might mean forfeiting their own plans for a holiday with their child. What often happens is, that despite the fact that the summer is about 6 weeks in length, both parents decide that they want to take their child on holiday over the same period of time. Not possible. Who should take precedence then? The argument goes, that tickets have already been bought, or that the grandparents are only available to be on holiday with the child during that particular time, or the step or half brothers and sisters are only available (on release from their resident parent) during that two weeks and how nice would it be if your child could be on holiday at the same time as them. The argument on the other side goes that the child’s godmother has invited him and you away and that is the only time that she has that particular flat that you can all stay in, or a whole bunch of friends have rented a villa and they are all going with their children, so you can’t go without yours. It is the judgement of Solomon to make these decisions in the absence of agreement. Whichever parent succeeds the other parent fails. One is bound to be unhappy. In the last resort, it may be necessary to go to Court. Judgements are based on what happened last summer, whose plans are the most immoveable, what would be best for the child.
Do other factors come into play when ex couples polarise themselves and pitch into battle? Is it that it is hard to be on your own for two weeks without your children when you are the main carer and with them most of the time. Is it that, feeling on the edge of things as the non-resident parent, it is the time to redress the balance and equalise the scales in your favour. Both these things are true and both bring with them, problems because it is the children who are caught in the middle. The summer reminds us of times when we were together as a family, making plans all under one roof and singing from the same hymn sheet. The summer post separation can feel more like an argument waiting to happen and it can feel like loss and unfamiliarity. It’s not easy to find a suitable holiday venue alone with your children that you feel comfortable with so invitations from friends or family have to be taken advantage of even if the dates don’t suit everyone. Summer time and the living is easy? Not always.