Wednesday, 5 December 2007


Plan ahead and put the children first. That’s the key to a happy Christmas for separated families where the festive season is spoiled for thousands of children each year by feuding parents.

Resolution - which adopts a non-confrontational approach to separation and divorce - is behind the advice.

On the face of it, the idea of two Christmases might seem like a dream come true for children, but the reality for separated families is often very different.

Putting the children first is the key to a happy Christmas:

Christmas - whichever parent it is spent with - should be something to look forward to, but for children caught in the crossfire between separated parents who can’t agree on where they should spend Christmas, excitement can quickly turn into misery.

Resolution has the following advice to help separated families make sure this Christmas is a happy one:

  • Make your Christmas plans early to avoid clashes, arguments and upset later.

  • Don’t ask your children to choose between you. This risks putting the responsibility on them when the adults should make these difficult decisions.

  • Allow your children to express opinions about how they want to spend Christmas and listen to their views without putting pressure on them. When you’ve made the decision, explain it to them so they know what’s going to happen.

  • Don’t make it a ‘who can buy the best present’ competition between you and your ex. Discuss what gifts to buy so you don’t duplicate. The likelihood is that what your children will want most of all is an opportunity to spend some time with each parent.

  • Make the most of the time you have with your children and allow them to have a say in what you do. This may just mean curling up on the sofa and watching movies together or visiting friends and family. Things could get stressful if you try and do too much.

  • Pre-arrange handover times, and stick to them. Try to be positive with your ex-partner so that the children do not pick up any tensions there may be between you. Research has found that children often feel that it’s their fault if their parents fight.

  • Be willing to make compromises, in everyone’s interests. Even if you don’t entirely get your first choice result, be gracious about it, not only for the children’s sake, but for your own too. There’ll be other Christmases to try different arrangements.


Smirking Cat said...

Any advice when it is the other party playing the "who can buy the biggest and/or most expensive present?" game? I don't want to teach the kids to be materialistic or to focus on gimme, gimme, gimme during the holidays (or birthdays, or any other time), but it is difficult when they spend barely 4 days a month at our house.

Judith said...

Children are great manipulators and if you join in the competition they'll make it very hard for you to get off the treadmill. Better to give time and treats in which you all participate, enjoy and remember than hugely expensive material gifts.

Latasha Eckert said...

Hi Judith,
I stumbled across your blog last week and was pleased to come across this posting. I am a child of divorced parents and your advice for a happy, broken-home holiday speaks volumes. Two Christmases never made up for the worries and disappointments I felt when my parents made me choose between them--"Who do you want to spend Christmas with?" "Who got you your favorite gift?" "Why are you late getting here, we've all been waiting?"
Thanks for breaking it down and explaining that when parents try to one-up each other, even the best of holidays can turn sour.

I enjoy reading your blog and have linked to you in my blog roll. Feel free to check it out at