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How to get Through the Holiday Season – Tips for Separated Parents

About the Author: Kristdel Bolog

Kristdel practices solely in Family Law has been a Partner at The Family Lawyer since June 2019. Aside from her amazing ability to recite from memory the entire “Ode to Spot” by Commander Data, she has a wealth of knowledge and practical experience from a decade in the field of family law. Kristdel’s passion for the law and a love of helping people through difficult times enables her to put peoples minds at ease, even during complicated or bitter family court proceedings. As our resident “empath” she is The Family Lawyers’ Counsellor and is always there to listen to her colleagues or clients and bring a smile to their faces. Her nickname around the office is “the nerd”, a badge she wears proudly. Kristdel is hardworking, knowledgeable and dedicated to getting great outcomes for her clients. You can contact her at kbolog@thefamilylawyer.com.au or on 03 8657 3751.
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December 4, 2019

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Tips for Separated Parents This Holiday Season

For a good portion of us, Christmas is a fun and festive time of the year, we get together with family and friends to swap presents, share meals and enjoy each other’s company.

However, for separated families, Christmas can be a time of stress, sadness and disappointment and most times the children are caught in the middle. So, what can separated parents do to make Christmas a little easier on their children and themselves?

It is important to realise that Christmas is a time for your children. Many disagreements over Christmas start because of parents’ expectations of what will happen. You expect that children will spend Christmas with you. The other parent may expect the same.

What might help

It is important that parent communicate with each other and plan for Christmas and the holiday season in advance. By planning ahead of time, everyone has a chance to be happier and far less stressed because they know what to expect.

If you make your children’s happiness your priority when making any plans, you will be well on the way to a happier time.

Understanding some simple facts about children can also help. Here’s just a few helpful thoughts:

  • Children from separated families often experience a great deal of tension at Christmas.
  • They often feel responsible for making both parents happy, and when they see parents argue or upset, they take it personally.
  • On occasion, children feel that it is their fault that their parents broke up and struggle coming to terms with their parents not being together.
  • Adults also have a greater capacity to understand and to make choices. Children don’t have these reasoning skills.
  • They don’t have the understanding in life experiences that adults do. It is more difficult for them to make meaning of the situations they are in.

Understanding your children

Regardless of the situation between parents, it is important not to criticise the other parent when talking to your children. You need to accept that your children love both their parents and the relationship that they have with that parent must be protected. By criticising their other parent, you create tension and stress for your children.

Steps in avoiding conflict at Christmas:

  • Discuss your ideas with your children and gain their input, (this may depend on how old they are), however, all children should have the chance to say what they want to do.
  • Listen closely to what they say.
  • Put their desires ahead of yours.
  • Avoid situations where your children are drawn into the centre of the conflict.
  • If your children’s wishes can’t be met, take the time to sit down with them and explain why.

Despite your best efforts some difficulties may still arise. You must take responsibility for what you do as a parent, however you cannot be responsible for how the other parent behaves.

Help is available

You can do everything in your power, but you may find that the other parent will not cooperate. If you find yourself in this situation, always remember that help is available.

A counsellor or support group (such as Mums/ Dads in Distress) can offer helpful advice on how to cope with difficult relationships and situations or just listen and support you.

A lawyer can also be helpful to explain the law regarding various situations with relationships and children and can give you advice about the options available to you.

Communication is the key. Start communicating well ahead of time and keep your children’s happiness as your priority and you will have made a good start to a happier Christmas.

How can we help?

If you need legal advice or support, our experienced and compassionate family lawyers can assist you, whatever stage you may be at. Talk to us today for a FREE 15-minute family law consultation by calling 03 8657 3751 or via email at enquiries@thefamilylawyer.com.au we look forward to helping you achieve a better outcome.

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