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Around this time last year I wrote a blog post containing six top tips for separated parents to consider when planning arrangements for children at Christmas time. The post was read and shared widely and we heard from many clients that it helped them think ahead in terms of planning for the holidays.
Well, I know it may only be October but there is already a hint of Christmas in the shops and so for separated or divorced couples it’s never too early to start thinking about the arrangements for the children over the festive period.
They say Christmas is the season to be jolly. However if you are facing your first Christmas as a separated parent you may well be anxious and worried about whether your son or daughter will actually be with you on Christmas Day to open your carefully selected present.
Unfortunately there are many parents who find it increasingly difficult to agree where their child will be on Christmas Day, when they will see their extended family, who will go to the carol concert and nativity play and who will purchase what gift. Such issues can result in great conflict between families and the time of wonder and excitement for children is often replaced with tension and anxiety.
There is no right or wrong way to organise Christmas as a separated family. All that can ever be asked of parents is to do your best to ensure your children get to spend time with each parent and that any conflict between you and your ex is kept to a minimum.
Part of the problem is that all too often parents allow the issue to fester and grow with neither parent wanting to raise the subject with the other for fear or further conflict and animosity. So, rather than eagerly anticipating Christmas, children can be left feeling uncertain and unhappy.
The key is to plan early. Start thinking about the arrangements in October at the latest. Agreeing a joint plan as early as possible gives you and the children certainty and enables everyone to relax and enjoy the Christmas build up free from worry and guilt.
I am all too aware that for some parents sitting down and talking about the plans will be extremely difficult especially if your separation is relatively recent. However it is important to remember that you are both parents and will always needs to communicate about your children. Taking a fair approach and keeping your emotions to one side will ensure you stay focussed on the children.
Remember, children’s memories of Christmas will remain with them forever and it is important that this time is made special for them despite the separation and your feelings towards one another.