Coping with Christmas: Tips for separated parents

If you are a single parent or a parent who lives away from their children because of a divorce or separation, Christmas can be a really difficult time. Traditionally, Christmas is a time for family. If you find yourself unable to spend the festive season with your children, it can be very upsetting and distressing. If this is the first Christmas of your separation, this can be even harder to cope with.

There are various agencies that can offer you emotional support such as www.familylives.org.uk. From a legal perspective, we would advise that you try to set arrangements for the festive period early on to avoid disappointment or potential confrontation with your ex when Christmas is just around the corner.   Our team of family lawyers can help you reach an arrangement or resolve any differences through negotiation or by recommending appropriate mediators. As a last resort, an application to the court can be made on the specific issue of Christmas and in the more serious cases this application can be made urgently and at the last minute. The Court will even make emergency orders over the Christmas period. This will usually only occur in the most urgent of scenarios such as child abduction by one parent.

Be StepWise is a group founded in 2009 by two family solicitors and a qualified parent coach.   They have come up with the following 7 tips to help separated parents navigate their way through the Christmas period.

‘1. Set expectations  early – yours and your children’s. Arrange times and dates early with your ex-spouse and tell the children in an encouraging and supportive way – even if you don’t feel like it.  Don’t tell them you would prefer the children to be with you and how upset you will be missing them opening their presents. See if you can telephone or Skype them on Christmas morning.

  1. Create an alternative Christmas for yourself with parents or friends. This can be an opportunity to get closer to them than in the past when the Christmas focus has been on the children.
  2. Arrange an alternative Christmas for you and the children. Do something really special that the children will enjoy. Perhaps create a new tradition – the children will love it
  3. Shift your perspective to your children’s happiness.  Speak to them as if you really do wish them a very happy time. Christmas is a huge deal for children – and seeing it from their perspective will also help take your focus off your own sadness. Try to put on a happy and brave face for them but don’t be afraid to have a good sob at home to release negative emotions and feel refreshed.
  4. Focus on your children’s needs for new experiences, love and affection, praise and recognition and responsibility, which are recognised as the most important aspects in their development of children.
  5. Having said that, find and enjoy some “Me-time”. Looking after your own health and wellbeing is just as important as looking after the children’s. With the kids away read that book you’ve promised yourself, watch the TV you like, go for a walk, have a lie-in in the mornings. Banish any feeling of guilt because you are putting yourself first for once  – you deserve it.
  6. Speak to your children. Phone regularly (every day or second day) to hear how they’re doing. Celebrate with them if they are happy. Listen to them if they are upset. Recognise their feelings. Talk to them about how much you are looking forward to seeing them again.’

Extract taken from the London Evening Standard 16.12.2014

We understand that this is an emotional time for all concerned and needs handling with sensitivity and sensible legal advice. If you would like to talk to a member of our specialist team of family lawyers then contact us on 0161 969 3131.

Image taken from www.personalcreations.com via Flickr.