The Good Parenting Guide to Christmas-after-Divorce...

The Good Parenting Guide to Christmas-after-Divorce

Christmas is a stressful time but it’s especially difficult if you're a mum and dad that's split-up this year. You'll be anxious about your children's welfare during this first festive-season as a fractured family.

No fear, I've been there and it is tough but you can manage it! You’d think it's common sense to put children first but heartache and bitterness can cloud judgement.

Here are my ten top tips to stop your breakup affecting your children over Christmas:

1/ Plan your access arrangements now. Don't leave these to the last minute when you're stressed and likely to argue over such sensitive matters. Once agreed, e-mail them so there's a ‘paper trail’. This way neither of you will be tempted to go back on the plans.

2/ Don't make it a competition over who can buy the "best" gifts for the children. You could even show real Christmas spirit by pooling together and buying something from both of you.

3/ Dig deep, try sounding enthusiastic to your children when discussing Christmas plans involving your ex. Sound happy when you, e.g., say they’re spending Christmas Eve with their other parent. And wave them off happily when they’re collected.

4/ Go that extra mile by encouraging your children when they want to make, or buy, a gift for their other parent. Such goodwill is priceless for their well-being.

5/ Traditions are important - they give stability to your children when things feel like they're falling apart. Sadly they often disappear, so hang on to those like hanging-up stockings on Christmas Eve together and putting mince pies out for Father Christmas. Have fun creating new traditions.

6/ You're trying hard to make everything right for your children when at times you feel like crying over your broken relationship. Save the tears for once they're tucked safely in bed - they don't need to witness your heartache.

7/ Budgets are undoubtedly tight so plan lots of free outings including visits to friends/family. Be honest with friends/family about the children - and you - needing distractions from things at home being different after the breakup this Christmas.

8/ If the worst-case scenario happens - and your ex backs out of Christmas access plans - don't fall apart in front of your children. Be strong, put on a brave face, and carry on as if that was all part of the plan.

9/ If things are going well with your ex, don't enjoy too much Christmas ‘spirit’ – i.e., alcohol. You don't want to end up overly affectionate with each other in front of them. It'd be terribly confusing to see you two having ‘Christmas cuddles’ but then you don’t get back together.

10/ Now you've got through Christmas why not look ahead with fresh eyes to 2015. Resolve to keep things as calm as possible with your ex - for your children’s sake and yours.

A similar article was published in the Sun newspaper

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