Put The Children First For Christmas Peace

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Christmas will soon be upon us, and if you’re as organised as one of my colleagues, you’ll have already finished buying all your Christmas presents and even wrapped them and piled them up neatly under the tree by now. For many separated families, however, arrangements for the children are far from settled at what can be a very difficult time of the year.

It is undoubtedly helpful for all concerned if all these issues are considered well before the big day. How will the children spend Christmas and New Year? is this their first festive season without Mum and Dad being together and how do we manage that? I appreciate it’s a difficult discussion to have, but do try to agree as much as possible and as soon as possible, to provide stability for your children. You don’t want to still be negotiating arrangements for your children via solicitors at 4pm on Christmas Eve!

Remember, being separated at Christmas does not have to be a bad thing for your children and you can still make it an enjoyable holiday season for them. Explain to them that they will be spending time with each parent at specific dates and times. Let them know that essentially they are getting two Christmases and New Year, one with Mum and one with Dad. They get to open presents twice and enjoy time with extended family members on both sides.

No matter how hard the breakdown of the relationship has been on you, focus on the positives – you have beautiful children whom you will have to raise together into the future. Your children and their needs should always come first, and everything else is secondary.

My suggestions for separated parents is to focus on these three key points over the festive period:

  1. Try to talk about plans for the children. How will the arrangements work? Will you be working? If you are, Can your ex-partner care for the children while you are at work? Even if you’re not on speaking terms, exchange emails to start a dialogue. Propose dates and times for the collection and return of the children and try to be open minded and negotiate. Remember, this is for the children and not for the adults. Do what will make them happy.
  2. Do not spread negativity – this sets the tone for a bad Christmas. Never speak negatively of your ex-partner in the presence of the children. No matter how upset and frustrated you are about them and their behaviour, keep your focus on the prize – the happiness of your children – and do what is right by them. Remember that regardless of whatever happened between you and your ex-partner, they just see a Mum and Dad who love them. Don’t ruin that for them.
  3. Involve the children in the decision-making process, if they are at the right age and level of understanding to do so. Let them know that their voice is being heard. Tell them the arrangements as agreed with your ex-partner and ask for their views on this. Do not let them feel that they are stuck in the middle.

If you would like to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers to discuss separation and children matters further, please do not hesitate to contact us at Macks and we will be happy to help.

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