Christmas is the time of year that everyone looks forward to, not least the children. It is a time for giving and sharing and, most of all, a time to put aside our differences and celebrate the year just gone. Unfortunately it is also the time of year where tension may build, particularly where parents are separated or divorced. The demands of parenting arrangements can often put a “sour taste” on moments that are meant to be most memorable for our children. While it can be challenging balancing parenting arrangements and avoiding hostility during such a busy and spontaneous time of the year, East Coast Family Lawyers have some tips to help you through the festive season and ensure your little ones will develop fond memories for years to come.
First and foremost, it is important for mothers and fathers alike to protect their children from dispute. If conflict does arise, please shield your children from the dispute and not involve them in any way. After all, this is meant to be the most wonderful time of the year! You should therefore view Christmas as a day of enjoyment for your children.
Secondly, it is important to consider your child’s perspective of your separation or divorce when making arrangements for the festive season. Given that most children tend to blame themselves for the parents separating, special occasions like Christmas are often fraught with angst. To relieve your children from this sense of responsibility, be sure to spend some quiet time with your children to see how they are feeling and to adapt any arrangements to their needs.
Lastly, many disagreements arise because of the intense lead up to Christmas and the expectations that each parent has of what will happen on that day. Much hostility can be avoided simply by effectively communicating to each other your plans for the day and for the festive season. So, to avoid confusion at Christmas time:
- Agree on arrangements for the children on Christmas Day as early as possible, including the time each parent will spend with the children and the location from which the children will be dropped/picked up
- If your children are old and mature enough to express their wishes for the day, discuss these between yourselves, but always put their wishes before your own
- Understand that at Christmas time, events may take a little longer than planned or traffic (Christmas traffic!) may cause some delay. So please be flexible and open to making alternate arrangements if necessary
Planning ahead and making sure both parents are on the same page will avoid confusion and help to ensure that Christmas day is a joyous occasion free of hostility.
Please remember that, despite your best efforts, it is possible that inappropriate conduct may still occur. If this is the case, please be sure to protect your children and seek professional advice from either a lawyer or a counsellor.
For more information regarding parenting arrangements please contact us on (02) 4322 0251 to speak to Kathy Matri for a no obligation chat.