Top Tips – making Christmas arrangements for children with separated parents
Christmas can be a minefield for children whose parents have separated, particularly for those families where it is the first Christmas. It’s natural that both parents will want to spend Christmas with their children as it is very much a family occasion.
Tina Day is a Family Mediator and Lawyer in Coffin Mew’s family team and is always looking ahead for divorcing or separating families. Parents should start thinking about Christmas early and agreeing arrangements well in advance so there are no last minute disputes and the children can be reassured well in advance.
Often the only way of resolving Christmas contact arrangements is through the court process. However Tina’s view is that with sensitive handling and a little bit of thought in advance, court proceedings can be avoided and everyone can enjoy the best outcome over Christmas.
Tina’s gives her tips below for a good Christmas:
- Don’t ask the children to choose between you for Christmas contact. This risks putting the responsibility on them when it is the parents who should be making the difficult decision.
- Do let the children express their views as to how they want to spend their time. Listen to them, but don’t influence their thoughts.
- Think about the children’s welfare first. Try and talk to your “ex” about the arrangements together.
- Plan Christmas contact well in advance – then if there is a problem it can still be resolved at an early stage.
- Don’t compete with your “ex” when buying presents.
- Think about the arrangements you are making. Are they beneficial to the children or do they mean the children spend most of Christmas sat in cars being ferried between parents.
- Pre arrange hand over times and stick to them.
- Enjoy the time you do have with the children and don’t let them pick up on any tensions you may have with your former partner or spouse.
- Finally, try to arrange contact so the children do not have to sit through two Christmas dinners. They will not thank you for subjecting them to two lots of sprouts!