Coping with a Single Parent Christmas
Christmas is a big thing for most children and even bigger for those parents desperately trying to meet their expectations.
So, what happens when parents separate and they're faced with having to share their children over Christmas? For most people this is supposed to be an exciting and happy family time - but, for many people dealing with divorce and separation it can be difficult to come to terms with the arrangements at this time of year.
I often hear parents say that their children have to be at home for Christmas. However, in the event of a divorce or separation, there are often 2 homes and children have (at least) two parents and can't be cut in half. Here are some thoughts that might help to deal with things at this time of year...
- Be realistic
Insisting that your children must be with you for Christmas every year isn't really a fair solution to them or to the other parent. You wouldn't want it to be that way for you and so something has to give. Your children don't want you to fight and it will probably be fighting over the arrangements that will spoil their Christmas, not having to divide their time between their parents.
Ultimately, if you accept the situation with a calm and graceful attitude, the likelihood is that the children will have a great time and you will feel the benefit of that.
- Be flexible
Your kids will most probably be happy to celebrate Christmas on any day. Let's face it, there will be presents, sweets and TV, so what will they have to complain about? You may not get them every year on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day but with a bit of planning, you can make any day like Christmas Eve or Christmas Day for them.
For very young children, Santa will always make a special arrangement to deliver their presents on another day and to another location. For the older kids that don't believe any more, as long as they get their presents and have a good time, they're unlikely to complain.
- What about me?
If your objections are really because you don't want to be on your own or you don't want things to change, this can be a tough one to resolve. Try to think about what you would have done before you had your kids. You don't have to treat it as Christmas eve/day. You can plan a special time for you to pamper yourself. Maybe you have friends or family that would happily look after you over Christmas if they know you're on your own. Try to plan something special just for you to look forward to.
To be fair to your kids, it's not for them to look after your emotional need over the Christmas holidays. It's for them to have a good time. It's hard but sometimes you need to be prepared to wave them off with promises of exciting times and then do your best to amuse yourself - and celebrate wholeheartedly when they are with you!
- Plan ahead
There's nothing worse than not dealing with this issue until very late in the day. If you're worried about what the arrangements might be like, raise it early with the other parent so that you can find out where the issues might be. This will give you time, without the pressure of Christmas just around the corner, to sort things out and think about how you could organise things. It might help to talk to friends in similar situations to find out how they do things.
If you really struggle to agree things, talking about it ahead of time will give you space to get help and advice if you need it.
May all your Christmases be merry and bright!
Tracy Cross - Collaborative Lawyer/mediator