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How to protect your children on their first Christmas after divorce

While Instagram would lead us to believe that every family spends the Christmas period in matching pyjamas happily making mince pies in a remarkably mess-free kitchen, the reality can be rather different. Tensions run high in most families and it is generally a stressful time for parents, with the first Christmas post-divorce likely to be even more fraught than usual. 

For your children, Christmas this year will look very different to how it has previously.  They will probably be faced with conflicting emotions, torn between excitement over the occasion and sadness that a loved family member is not there and that some family traditions cannot happen as usual.

Here are our top tips for making this a positive transition for your children:

Children First

First and foremost, ensure that you are putting your children first.

It can be easy to let your own (probably less than positive) feelings about your former partner cloud your judgment when it comes to child arrangements. However, for the sake of your children, you need to brush off your compromising skills and be prepared to make sacrifices to ensure that your children enjoy time with both parents over the holidays, if it is in the childrens best interests to do so.

Plan Ahead

Avoid uncertainty and last-minute arguments by having a conversation with your co-parent about Christmas child arrangements well in advance of the occasion. It will help your children to adjust to their new normal by knowing exactly what is happening for Christmas and when they are spending time with each parent.

There is no set formula, and you should do whatever works best for your children.

Avoid Competition

Dont compete, collaborate. Stop trying to out-do your co-parent and instead work together. Discuss all aspects of Christmas relating to your children such as presents and events with your co-parent in advance. Nothing will ruin your childs Christmas more than receiving the same present from both parents, or going to the pantomime twice (when they really wanted to go ice skating anyway).

Embrace Change

This Christmas will be different, so embrace it! Think of it as an exciting opportunity to make new Christmas traditions with your children which they will treasure as they get older. Decorate a gingerbread house, go to see the Christmas lights or even just watch Christmas films in pyjamas (non-matching will do!)

Avoid Parental Conflict

When making child arrangements for Christmas, be realistic about your current relationship with your co-parent.

While having Christmas together as blended family unit may work well for some families; in others, it quickly disintegrates into arguments and tears. If you struggle to be in the same room as your co-parent on an average day, having Christmas together is a recipe for disaster. Christmas Day handovers can also be emotionally charged and should either be avoided completely or kept as quick as possible.

Focus on making sure that all contact is a positive experience for your children during this period.

Be Kind

Finally, be kind and considerate to your co-parent.  While they are no longer your partner, they are and always will be your childrens parent. Like you, they will be sad about missing time with their children over the holidays.   

Christmas is a time for family. If it is safe and appropriate to do so, be empathetic and allow your child to have that extra contact with their parent over the holiday period.

The greatest gift you can give your children this Christmas is letting them spend time with both their parents.


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