Christmas is a time for children to laugh and build memories, but for some, it’s a time when they are drawn into the middle of a domestic battle.
With Christmas this year being affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, separated families across the UK face further challenges regarding childcare arrangements and where is suitable for children to spend Christmas day.
According to current government guidance, families across the UK will be able to gather in three-household groups of any size from the 23rd to 27th of December.
Arranging “Christmas bubbles” may add to the stress and conflict over where children will be staying over the festive period. We believe children’s needs come first and have set out a few considerations to help smooth over some of the challenges.
For the children of separated parents, Christmas is a time when conflict has the potential to escalate. Issues such as; when and who gets the children during the holiday. Even for the most cooperative co-parenting parents, this can create disharmony. It can be difficult for most parents which set of grandparents to see during the holiday and what presents to buy, but for separated parents, each of these challenges has increased meaning and associated challenges.
To make Christmas a child centred, fun fest, it takes planning, time and compromise. Here are a few considerations to help smooth over some of the challenges:
Review what was agreed when you separated: during your separation it is likely that the issue of Christmas was raised and at that time an agreement may have been reached. Before you agree to any family plans, revisit this agreement and see if it is workable.
Talk with the other parent as early as possible about arrangements: by sitting down as early as possible and talking to the other parent about theirs and your plans, you may be able to agree an approach that enables you both to achieve your Christmas ideal. Avoid talking through the child to the other parent about your plans as this places the child in a very stressful predicament and could make them dread Christmas! Remember that you will need to keep communication lines open the whole way through the Christmas season.
Put the child’s needs first: Just like parenting, Christmas is about children. Think about what your child would like to do. Ask them. Look at how you can adjust your plans around the child’s needs. Every child is different and will have different needs. Traipsing around the country on Christmas day to eat countless Christmas puddings may not be the best memory for every child!
Compromise: It can be very hard for most adults to compromise, especially when it means they may not see their child on Christmas day. But, in some situations, compromising could be a very important option if you want your child to be happy.
Cherish the time you do have with your child: It’s easy to loose sight of what’s important when planning Christmas, but make sure you make some special memories with your child.
Achieving a seamless plan this year can be very challenging, especially if communication between the two parents is very strained. So, it may be a good time to revisit mediation. Working with an accredited mediator to agree a parenting plan for the Christmas season could result in your child building some of those cherished memories.