All I want for Christmas is … to see both of my parents

When parents have separated, there can be many hurdles to overcome in the year; birthdays holidays, parents’ evenings, but one of the most emotionally charged events is Christmas.

Every parent wants to be with their child at Christmas but when you are separated this can be difficult to achieve especially when the split is raw or relations are strained.

Most parents will find a way for them both to spend some of this special occasion with their children and each set of individual circumstances will call for its own solution. Commonly, one year the children will be with mum on Christmas Day and the next year with dad, or some parents chose to split Christmas day with one parent having them in the morning and the other the afternoon.

Some separated parents live a long distance from each other so it is not always possible to share time as I have suggested. These circumstances normally mean that the children will to spend a longer amount of time with each parent over the Christmas break. This can be very difficult for the parent who is not seeing the children and careful plans should be made for the children to speak to or Skype this parent regularly whilst they are away.

One of the most important things to remember is that Christmas should be about the children. Don’t make your children take sides and make it easy for them to spend time at both homes. They do not need to feel guilty or upset.

Resolution has set out the following guidance on its webpage, about successfully managing special occasions when you are separated:

  • Keep children informed about plans.
  • Build a sense of family. Talk to your children about what makes the holidays special and how you can enjoy yourselves.
  • Allow children to talk about past special occasions. They have a right to good memories of their family.
  • Let the children know that even though things will be different, they can still be special. Invite them to help establish new rituals with you.
  • Help your children make or buy gifts for their other parent so they can experience the joy of giving and know that you support their relationship.
  • Don’t overindulge the children or get into a “gift competition” with your ex. Try to coordinate gift choices with the other parent.
  • Minimise tensions for your children. Only take part in activities with the other parent, such as opening presents, if it will be a positive experience.
  • Allow your children to decide where they will keep their gifts.
  • Maintain a sense of humour and be flexible. If plans are altered, ask yourself: “What difference will this make one year from now?”
  • Don’t make assumptions and don’t plan or book things without talking to their other parent.
  • Older children and teenagers need to be part of any planning because they too may have things they want to do at significant times of year.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas from Wolferstans.

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