The holiday season is here. It should be a joyful time filled with family, friends, activities and fun. Unfortunately, the many Pennsylvania families who are in transition due to divorce may find it difficult to make it all these things. This is particularly true if children start questioning holiday custody arrangements.

A father once sought advice about what he should do the first Christmas following his divorce when his daughter asked to spend the day with her mother and not him — even though it was his year to have her. Wanting to help a child who is struggling with the new family dynamic is certainly understandable, and listening to what a child wants is most definitely important. As the adult, it is necessary to look at the bigger picture, though, to determine if the child’s request should be honored or if the custody agreement should be upheld.

Figuring out a child custody agreement that works for both parents and is believed best for the affected children is challenging. No one will know how a custody plan works until they put it into action. If parents give in to every request made by their children, they’ll never know if their custody plan fits their needs. Giving in to a child’s request gives that child a lot of power, and that is power he or she will use to his or her advantage. Setting boundaries is a must so children can learn to accept their new family life.

If, for some reason, changes to a custody plan are thought necessary for the holiday season, now is the time to address the issue. It is best not to wait until the last minute. Parents need to discuss the issue and decide what they think is best for their children. If a temporary adjustment seems appropriate, this is something parents can work out in private. If a permanent change to a custody order is wanted, filling an official modification request in a Pennsylvania court can be done with the assistance of legal counsel.