Parenting after parting: the first Christmas

Nov 27th, 2019

Emma Lawler, Partner

The festive season is almost upon us again. Parents who have separated are faced with having to deal with their first Christmas as a single or separated parent. As with any difficult times in our lives, occasions such as this can often bring feelings of grief, anger, relief and reflection.  Remember that over time, these feelings will inevitably reduce, if not disappear. Things will get easier.

Not all parents are able to communicate effectively after a separation. Ideally, children of separated parents need to hear positive messages about each parent and to see that the parents are able to speak to each other. Remember that your children will see themselves as a reflection of their parents. Hearing anything negative about the other parent can have an impact on your child’s own emotional development. If you are able to communicate with your ex, the following tips could help in dealing with your first Christmas;

  • Plan in advance as far as possible what will happen over the Christmas period. Try to agree the arrangements with your ex as early as you can. You will both need to be flexible and agree something that suits you both as well as the children.
  • Once you’ve decided the arrangements, tell the children what they are so they know what’s happening.
  • If you have to compromise this year on what you would like to happen, remember your ex may become more reasonable as time passes and may be more flexible next year.
  • Discuss what you each plan to buy for the children and whether you will still buy joint gifts or separate. Don’t turn it into a competition.
  • Try not to focus on what’s now missing in your life and instead think about what you now have, or could have in the future.
  • Remember that children will want to spend time with both of you, whether it’s on 25th December or 29thDecember. Children often love having 2 “Christmas Days” and don’t care about the date on the calendar. It’s about spending time together.
  • Children (and adults!) like routine and habits so try to stick to your usual routines as far as possible.
  • If you’re spending this year without the children, try to make the most of your time. Try something new such as taking a short break, or spending the time with friends.
Overall, try to focus on the fact that getting through this Christmas period will inevitably be the most difficult one for you to deal with and you are bound to feel stronger once the New Year starts.
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Emma Lawler


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