Are you a separated or divorced parent and found Christmas tough? | | The Law House

Are you a separated or divorced parent and found Christmas tough?

By in All Blogs, Family Law Category on December 20th, 2012

For some separated families Christmas can be the most emotionally difficult and trying time of year. For many separated parents with small children they are often torn, on the one hand there is the emotional stress of trying come to terms with being separated or divorced and on the other hand  they genuinely want to do right by their children and not alienate the other parent. Celebrating the festive season is harrowing at the best of times and can only really work if both parents are

committed to taking care of their children’s needs first and not their own.

Venisha Shah, our family law specialist knows only too well that celebrating the festive season can be challenging for some parents and often disappointing for some children. In the following guide, we discuss some helpful tips so that you can make the right decisions for your children in 2013.

You may not care for your partner or what he or she has done but it is important to put aside your issues for the sake of the children even if it is only for one day. At times it can be very hard to remember your children’s living arrangements are ordered by the Court for your children’s benefit, not for your own benefit.

Many arguments arise because parents have un-realistic expectations about Christmas day itself. Often each parent’s expectation is the same.  For example, who gets to spend time with them on Christmas day? The other parent may expect the same. This can lead to disagreements which a child could get caught up in the middle of.

Planning and preparation are crucial. We advise that parents think ahead, well in advance of Christmas and more importantly communicate with each other before the “day” arrives. Even if you do this we can’t guarantee that all aspects of the day will go smoothly, there are also the in-laws to consider!  By planning ahead of time, you increase the odds of having a less stressful and possibly, an even happier day and for the coming year.

Understanding some simple facts about how your children could be feeling could help your situation:

  1. Children often experience a great deal of stress at Christmas. They sense that there will be trouble.
  2. They can sometimes feel responsible for making both parents happy.
  3. Children can feel insecure and knowing how the day is going to be from beginning to end helps, a lot.
  4. The fact that children often feel that they are to blame for their parents break up any animosity about the day can often reinforce this sense of blame.
  5. They may not have come to terms with their parents break-up and often put pressure on themselves to try and appear to OK with it. In effect, they try to take care of the parents.
  6. Children can feel guilty if they are spending more time with one particular parent over the other and may act out at either home.
  7. Children often don’t allow themselves to express their own feelings and for those children who are very young they may not be able to articulate how they fell. They can appear withdrawn and then the parents feel guilty and so on it continues.
  8.  Young children frequently don’t have the emotional and intellectual maturity to make informed decisions in the way that adults do.. Sometimes their decisions just don’t make sense but then it is a difficult time.

Regardless of what has happened between two parents, children’s feelings come first. Parents should accept that their children love each parent and the relationship that they have with the other must be protected. Avoid criticising each other, it just creates tension create tension for your children. Don’t ask the children to make “it’s him or me” decisions, it’s hard enough as it is.  It is only one day in the calendar, there are 364 other days in the year 2013 and we hope that we have been able to help.

If you require advice on any family law matter, particularly with regards to divorce or separation  please contact Venisha Shah, on 020 8956 2655 today.