The challenge of Christmas in two families living apart

Christmas is traditionally seen as a time of year when families spend time with each other, relaxing and enjoying a much needed break from the hectic day-to-day routines of family life.

However, as most parents will know, Christmas also comes with additional stresses and strains such as financial worries and the challenge of ensuring that the children have a special time.

The stresses and strains that most parents feel at Christmas is usually hugely increased for divorced or separated parents as they struggle to give their children a happy Christmas, in two families living apart. However, difficulties can be kept to a minimum if the tricky issue of holiday contact is addressed as early as possible.

At Dovetail we understand that for divorced or separated parents, Christmas requires careful planning to make sure that the needs of children come first. It is very, very 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 are bound to want to spend as much time with their children as they possibly can, however compromises do 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:

  • Remember that Christmas apart will be hard for all of you – not just the children. Make sure you 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 very 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 over present buying 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, 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. You may also find Resolution’s helpful guide ‘Separating Together – Your options for separation and divorce’ useful.




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