Children’s law expert Lucy Jones gives her top tips for parents on coping with Christmas separation.
Lucy is available on 01225 755656. You can also contact her by email or by completing the Contact Form below.
Top tips for Christmas separation
Christmas can be an especially difficult period for families with divorced or separated parents. Children will want to spend time with everybody, but strained relations or distance can make this very difficult. Here are my top tips for navigating the troubled festive period.
1. Decide how you’re going to share
How is Christmas Day going to be split? Will your children spend the morning with one parent and the afternoon with the other? Or maybe one family has them for Christmas Day and the other on Boxing Day? Or perhaps you’re able to all spend it together? Which option is best will depend on your circumstances, and remember that everyone will have to compromise to some extent. The most important thing is to consider what’s in your children’s best interests.
2. Plan ahead
Preparing for a family Christmas is stressful enough without adding to the pressure. Have these discussions well in advance, perhaps at a time when things are calm and communication is at a good stage. Leaving it late will make an already potentially awkward situation even worse.
3. Present a united front
Regardless of how you personally feel about the arrangements, make sure you’re both communicating the same message. If the children think you are both happy with things, they are more likely to be too. Conflicting signals can be potentially very damaging. Try not to use emotive language in the presence of the children.
4. Be positive
Christmas is traditionally a time about family, so not seeing a parent can upset children if things are not handled carefully. Try to make the situation as positive as possible and explain that they will have two nice Christmases, and everything will be fun!
5. Learn to let go
Try not to control your ex’s time with your children. Christmas is very special for everyone, and unless there are genuine safety concerns, give them some space. It’s very unlikely any irrevocable damage will be caused in the space of 24 hours by your children spending time with people you are not keen on.
6. Accept that it will be different
Maybe this is your first time spending Christmas Day without your children. It may not be perfect, and it’s probably not what you would have wanted, but all you can do is make the best of it. There will be positives – dwell on them. Change always presents opportunities.
7. Christmas is about your children
It’s time to remember that this is about the children. A wide network of family members is probably keen to be involved with them. But bear in mind that your circumstances mean it’s difficult to please everyone. So, focus just on pleasing your children, and you won’t go far wrong.