Coping with Christmas apart

Traditionally seen as a time of year when families spend time with each other, Christmas is supposed to be a time to relax and enjoy a much needed break from the hectic day-to-day routines of family life.

However, as many parents will know, the Christmas period can also bring additional stresses and strains such as worries over money and the challenge of ensuring that the children have a special time.

For divorced or separated parents the stresses and strains that many of us feel at this time of year are heightened as they struggle to give their children a happy Christmas, in two families living apart. Nevertheless, problems can be kept to a minimum if the difficult issue of holiday contact is addressed as early as possible.

At Dovetail we know that for divorced or separated parents, the Christmas holidays require careful planning to ensure sure that the needs of children are put first. Sadly it is all too common for divorced or separated parents to have difficulty in reaching an agreement as to how to share the care of their children over the Christmas and New Year holidays. This is completely understandable as both parents will naturally want to spend as much time with their children as they possibly can, on the other hand compromises will have to be made.

If you are a separated parent and haven’t yet agreed with your ex how you are going to share the care of the children over Christmas, you’ll need to begin tackling this as soon as possible. Here are a few things you can try to make the holiday season easier for all, but particularly the children:

Bear in mind that Christmas apart will be hard for all of you – not just the children. You need to acknowledge your own emotions and take stock of the fact that you will need extra support.
Talk to your children and let them know what Christmas will be like for your family this year. Although it seem obvious, try to find the time to have talk about what might be different from Christmas last year and what will stay the same. Find out from your children what is important to them and also ask them what they’ll find difficult. Although this might be a difficult conversation to have, avoiding talking about this can make it harder for your children.
Focus on creating new traditions and try to avoid going into overdrive over preparations. Try to spend as much quality time as you can with your children as this is a great way of offering valuable reassurance.
Do your best to minimise potential conflict with your ex at this time of year and although it’s great if you can participate in social events together, it’s only a good thing if you can keep things free from tension.
When it comes to buying presents for your children, communicate with your ex over this and if possible, try to buy joint gifts. Don’t try to compete or over-compensate when it comes to buying presents and let your children decide where and when they are going to open their presents.
If you are going through a divorce or are considering divorce or separation, we understand that Christmas can be a very difficult time of year. At Dovetail our team of divorce professionals are happy to give further advice or information please get in touch and we’ll discuss your situation with you in complete confidence. You may also find Resolution’s helpful guide ‘Separating Together’ Your options for separation and divorce useful.

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