Christmas is traditionally a time for families to come together. However, for parents who are separating or divorcing, Christmas can be a tough time.
For most parents Christmas is all about pleasing their children by making sure their children have a lovely time. Christmas is a magical time of the year and parents love experiencing their children’s excitement on Christmas Eve waiting in anticipation for Santa to deliver their presents. Then their children waking up extremely early on Christmas day all excited about opening their presents. It is only fair that both parents get to enjoy spending time with their children over the Christmas period.
Parents often forget that children have feelings too. Christmas is laden with magical movies, most of which are based on the traditional Christmas with families spending time together. Most children will fantasise about their parents getting back together and living a happy life. If a child is denied the right to see a parent over Christmas, this could be damaging and such a memory could stay with them for many years to come, including into adulthood.
A resident parent may feel that they have worked hard all year round to look after their child whilst the non-resident parent gets to spend quality and fun time with the children over weekends and school holidays. For some resident parents, they feel that they should be rewarded by having their children stay with them over the Christmas period or on Christmas Day. A child loves each parent unconditionally and for parents to be arguing and fighting over Christmas is certainly not what Christmas is all about.
Therefore, we have devised some tips to try to assist parents when trying to organise Christmas arrangements and surviving Christmas.
- Plan in advance and communicate with the other parent. Do not ask your child to make the decision as this places far too much pressure on them to choose between parents as they are often worried about upsetting their parents.
- Do not leave making the arrangements and discussions with the other parent to the last minute, start considering Christmas arrangements in October/November time. Co-parenting is the key to a successful and stress free Christmas.
- Most children write a list of their desired presents. Show the other parent the list and if there is a main ‘big’ present, share the cost and give the present to your child as a ‘joint’ present from both Mum and Dad. As for other gifts, agree with the other parent as to which gifts you are both going to buy, after all, it is not a competition!
- Christmas Day comes around each year and there will be other Christmas’s, therefore, make sure that the arrangements are fair. Depending on each parent’s circumstances, you may decide to alternate Christmas Day each year so the children stays with you on Christmas Day one year and Boxing Day the other year. After all, Santa can always come again and Boxing Day can be treated like a 2nd Christmas Day. Or you may decide to both spend time with your children on Christmas Day by one parent collecting the children later on in the day but carefully consider what is best for your children. Your children may want to spend their day playing with their presents and/or spending time with extended family members with whom they may not get to see so often.
- Ensure the children get to see extended family members so grandparents, aunties, uncles, etc.
- Do not argue with the other parent; put your children’s needs and emotions first before yours. They do not want to hear arguments or fighting so make sure handovers are civil.
- When you have agreed the arrangements, tell your children what they are so that they can be reassured that they will be spending time with Mum and Dad and be positive about the other parent. A child does not want to hear negative comments about their Dad or Mum.
Having a child binds you to your ex for life! Parents should be prepared to be creative as divorce and separation when you have children is a life changing circumstance so parents need to be creative by adapting their agreements to adjust to their new family life. Whilst these are words of wisdom, there are times when parents simply cannot reach an agreement. This may be down to battles over property and money, therefore, it is important to obtain legal advice to discuss the options available to you.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.