The weeks leading up to Christmas can be a busy time for family lawyers as we help and support separated parents settle arrangements for their children over the Christmas period. Most parents want their children with them on Christmas day. It can be really hard for some parents to agree arrangements between them and so, here are some top tips from the family lawyers at Townsend Family Law to make sure this Christmas period is a smooth one.   

SHARING CHRISTMAS DAY

Many children, especially little ones who receive a visit from Santa, like to wake up in the home where they are mostly based.  It’s important for children to experience the joy of opening presents with their siblings. Think about sharing Christmas Day in a way that allows children to wake up in their own bed. The day could be split in two with the children spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in their main home and Christmas afternoon and Boxing Day with the other parent. 

ALTERNATING CHRISTMAS DAYS

If sharing Christmas day doesn’t work the next best thing is alternating Christmas day. Children usually get two weeks off school at Christmas and if you are sharing the Christmas school holidays, a natural changeover date tends to be Boxing Day. Children can spend the first week of the school holidays with one parent to include Christmas day and the second week with the other to include New Year’s Eve and Day. The following year, you switch. 

WHAT ABOUT SOME VIDEO TIME?

It is perfectly natural for children to want to speak to a parent who is not their main carer and this should be encouraged especially for children who worry about a parent being alone and lonely over the festive period. Telephone and FaceTime is a really good way to keep in touch and to reassure children that Mum or Dad are all right. 

TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN

Talk to your children about what arrangement that they would like for Christmas but in a way where they are not expected to choose. Older children in particular like to feel involved in decisions being made about them. You never know, they might come up with a novel arrangement that you haven’t thought of!!

IT’S NOT A COMPETITION

It’s never a good idea to “out buy” you’re ex-partner on Christmas presents. More stuff doesn’t equal more love. What children want is to spend quality time with their parents and to have their undivided attention. Communicate with each other over present buying to avoid duplication which is such a waste. You could both set a financial limit on gifts. Avoid compensating children because they are not with you. This raises children’s expectations and can place financial pressure on your ex to match that level of spending.

AVOID THE NEGATIVE

Children hear more than what we think. With family members around and the vino flowing you might be tempted to moan about your ex in the ear shot of the children. This can lead to negative influence which risks damaging relationships between children and a parent.  

IT’S ALL IN THE COMMUNICATION

Keeping lines of communication open is so important provided that it is safe and productive. When a break is bitter, communicating about your children is a real test of emotional strength. Don’t use your children to hurt your ex. Every parent wants to make Christmas the best for their children. Try to park those negative thoughts for the sake of the children and show your children that you can get along. 

WISHING YOU A HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM THE TOWNSEND TEAM

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