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Impact of Relationship Breakdown on Children During the Christmas Period

Posted on 22nd December 2017 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors

No matter when it happens, divorce is a stressful, emotional and scary time for the children of separating parents. Children, especially young ones will be unaware of the nuances and idiosyncrasies of marriage, so when their parents’ marriage breaks down, it is likely to totally blindside them. Although Christmas is often considered the most favourite time of year amongst children, the impact of a divorce can prevent their enjoyment over the festive period. In this piece, we’re going to detail how divorced parents can help make Christmas as enjoyable as possible for their children.

Custody at Christmas

Depending on the age of your children, they’ll react in different ways to not being able to spend Christmas with both parents at the same time. Younger children will likely be very stressed, upset and confused, whereas older ones may feel torn between parents and worried about upsetting one or the other.

If you have older children, ones in their teenage or even adult years, it’s important that you don’t make them feel guilty for their decision to spend time with one or the other parent. It is an extremely difficult time for them and the best course of action is to make Christmas as enjoyable, peaceful and happy as possible.

Avoid arguments

If your relationship is strained, Christmas can be a particularly trying time. The family-oriented nature of the festive period, combined with the pressure of hosting friends and family can prove to be a catalyst for arguments. It can be difficult to avoid sometimes, but making a conscious effort to keep the peace for children can make a huge difference. Christmas is a short time in the grand scheme of things but it is very special for children, so it’s important that your relationship troubles do not interfere with it.

Christmas competition

For separated parents, an additional dilemma and potential source of contention is where their children will be over the Christmas period. It can be, understandably, difficult to agree on where your children will spend Christmas and if you’ve negotiated how and when they’ll split their time between parents, it can then turn into something of a competition. It can be tempting to go overboard with Christmas celebrations and presents, but while this may seem like something the children would enjoy on the face of it, it can actually create a negative atmosphere.

For example, consider if one parent buys a gift that they know their child really wants, but does not consult the other parent, who also buys the same gift. If possible, discuss presents with the other parent before purchasing, so your children receive the gifts they want without any problems.

Isolate the event

If you can, try and make Christmas an entirely separate process from your day-to-day situation. That is to say, fully enjoy the moments you have with your children without any mention of any negative feelings towards your ex-partner – younger kids may have questions about what’s going on, but maintaining positivity will ensure they enjoy Christmas a lot more. If there are arrangements for the children to spend time with both parents on Christmas Day, for example, don’t make a big deal or procession of taking them to their father or mother’s house – it’s important for them that they spend time with both, and you can help them feel good about it by acting positively yourself.

Christmas with separated or divorced parents is unlikely to be easy for any child. You should certainly not feel guilty for ending a relationship, but it is important to keep in mind that children will not be as well-equipped to deal with the separation as you might be. That doesn’t mean that a separation automatically ruins Christmas – you can still have a wonderful time, with a little bit of awareness and extra positivity.

Goodwins Family Law Solicitors are experts in divorce and child custody in England and Wales, as well as divorce with international elements. If you need the advice of experienced, qualified and trusted solicitors, then you need Goodwins. For more information, please get in touch with us today.

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