At the Delaware County Domestic Relations Court we are committed to assisting parents in resolving disagreements concerning their children. There is never a shortage of things parents can disagree about. Raising children involves many decisions about education, health care, activities, discipline, routines and schedules. Parents have a big job with everything from understanding their child’s development, discipline and connecting in meaningful ways.
However, some common disagreements arise, which we hear often in court cases. One issue is the allocation of parenting time on holidays and other days of special meaning. These days are so full of memories and traditions; everybody wants to spend those special days with their children.
Personally, I have great memories of holidays, especially Easter. What are some of my Easter memories? Well, let me tell you.
When I was a kid, my parents hid individual candies all through the house. Some were easy to find and right out in the open. But others, man, they were a real challenge. We would check under every seat cushion, behind every book on every shelf, in every drawer and in every coat pocket. However, despite our best efforts, every year when we had our first really cold weather in October or November, I would find a chocolate egg or a peanut butter cup in my winter coat pocket.
Once my nieces and nephew were old enough to hunt for Easter eggs, I was placed in charge of hiding the eggs. By then, we had graduated to putting candy in plastic eggs and hiding them outside. (I think my mom had quite enough of her entire house being ransacked on Easter.)
As my nieces and nephew got older, being the great uncle that I am, I increased the difficulty and competitiveness of the Easter egg hunt. We had the last Easter egg hunt with them a few years ago. It was a combination of the “Hunger Games,” “Fear Factor” and professional wrestling. I hid eggs in animal holes, in trees, and under large logs and rocks. I have a vivid memory of my nephew, Ken, flying through the air after my niece, Sarah, hip-checked him to get an Easter egg. Meanwhile, my youngest niece, Anna, was not happy with how difficult it was to find eggs and the small number of eggs she found. I have no doubt the blood, sweat and tears shed in grandma and grandpa’s yard laid a strong foundation for their character.
Now, my 4-year-old daughter loves Easter egg hunts. I am not making any admission but during the pandemic, we may have had daily egg hunts in the yard for a month or two. But this year was my favorite. Before going to church we had a great Easter egg hunt. Now, there was some yelling when our puppy found an egg and started chewing it. However, my lasting memory from the Easter egg hunt this year is the look of joy and excitement on my daughters face as she found each and every egg.
And, that is what makes family law cases so very difficult for everyone involved. Who gets to experience those extra-special times and life-long memories? It is, rightly, very difficult for parents to manage the gut-wrenching emotions and try to fairly and logically divide up the holidays and days of special meaning.
The good news is there are countless ways a parent can create wonderful lasting memories with their children. We have programs at the court, like co-parent coaching, which assist families going through these difficult decisions. We strive to assist parents to create a plan that is as fair as possible and works well for everyone. People learn that eggs can be hunted any day of the year, and presents can be opened the day before or weekend after the holiday or birthday. And, the best part is, those wonderful experiences and life-long memories can be made any day of the year!
Randall D. Fuller is judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Fuller is a life-long resident of Delaware County.