Whilst Christmas is a time many reflect on and are thankful for the things in their lives that matter most, it is oftentimes a difficult period for those of us who are without our loved ones or are hurting from broken relationships or ongoing conflict. It is a time of year when most of us feel compelled to be with our families and if that is not possible, it hurts.
So the day that is celebrated for peace and joy can be very painful and the lead-up, stressful. This is particularly so if you are in a separated family with children. What are the arrangements for Christmas this year? When will I be able to spend time with my children? I don’t want to be alone. He/she had the kids for Christmas last year, so this year they should be with me. I just want to be a family unit again. These are all common thoughts we can have in the build-up to Christmas.
In the hope of alleviating any conflict and achieving a clear and communicated plan before Christmas, it is wise to start these discussions well-ahead. If you have court orders or a written agreement with your ex (a parenting plan) then presumably you already have documented arrangements in place.
With Christmas now only a week away, if you have not reached an agreement, or have tried but none has been reached with the other parent, no doubt tensions will be high and you may feel anxious and even angry about things. You are entitled to feel how you feel. What you should not do, however, is in any way expose your children to the conflict. Sure, vent to your family and friends about the situation (if that helps) but only when the children are not with you. It’s not a situation your children have created, and it is therefore not one they should be aware of or try to resolve.
If you are in this situation this Christmas, here are a few things you might like to consider:
- Focus on your children’s happiness and doing what you can to make sure they have a happy and memorable Christmas. It’s much easier said than done but try not to dwell on how the situation is affecting you, or how you feel. You are entitled to feel how you feel and it can be good to grieve (as opposed to trying to simply shut out your emotions), but if the situation is out of your control then brewing on such thoughts can often lead you to feel increasingly upset and despondent.
- Plan a second Christmas for when the children are next in your care. They will be sure to enjoy another celebration!
- Make plans for yourself and doing something that will bring you joy. This is an opportunity for you to start new traditions.
- Talk to people who have your best interests at heart and who will support you during this time. Don’t isolate yourself.
If you are having difficulties in making arrangements to spend time with your children, please contact us at DA Family Lawyers.