Christmas is a special time for children and therefore for their parents too. This holiday, which traditionally involves the family unit, can be difficult for separated parents, especially when their children are not with them for Christmas. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions by co-parents during the run-up to December 24 and solutions to some of them in order to revive the magic of Christmas for them in their own way.
Divorced parents are often very fussy about compliance with childcare during the holiday season. To avoid a family crisis that would disturb children, it is better to update your custody calendar several months in advance. Sandrine says: » My children will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with me and my family this year. It alternates every year with my ex-husband and I think it is very suitable for everyone because nobody feels cheated « . In all cases, do not ask children to choose which parent they want to spend Christmas with as this would undermine their sense of loyalty towards the excluded parent.
After a separation, you may feel guilty towards your children, or jealous towards the former spouse. Subsequently in some families, there is a competition for who can give the most expensive gift for Christmas. The relationship with the co-parent is not a competition and the child can quickly understand the mechanism and take advantage of this weakness to get what he or she wants. David explains: « My ex-wife does not have the same financial means as me, which creates some tension with the approach of Christmas or birthdays. After a few unfortunate episodes, we made an effort to consult each other before the holidays to prevent our daughter from being a witness to our differences. Sometimes we offer a bigger, common gift. »
Why not, if you still share some affection . But it should not raise false hopes. A child can lose his bearings when his separated parents meet and give the impression of a family unit. Be careful too about the organizational nightmare that this can create with in step families: what about new family members and their children?
Unconsciously or not, many separated parents are hit by nostalgia which can invade Christmas. Jean-François has become habituated to inviting his two teenagers to a restaurant with his new girlfriend: » I found myself alone, desperate to organize a perfect Eve. It quickly turned into a culinary fiasco. Since then, I reserve a good restaurant, and on Christmas Eve we go out ». Martine has made a clean sweep of her former life: « It reminded me too much of old memories. I decided to change all the dishes, table decoration and especially the menu. Finish the game, and flash garlands ». Separation, it changes people. It is normal for family traditions to evolve to better match the new life of each. And if you feel better as well, the children will be the ones to benefit.
Separated parents agree that this is a difficult moment to go through. « After a few years, one tends to become experienced » says Sandra, who found tricks to not spend Christmas alone. » I made new friends who are mostly like me. We take the opportunity to meet on Christmas Eve and have a good time without getting depressed. I know my children are with their father so I do not let myself worry about them « . You have to reassure yourself: there will be other Christmases you’ll spend with the children and we have the whole year to spend with them. This is the moment to take care of yourself.
And you? Does this time of year particularly affect you after your separation? What are your experiences or your new Christmas traditions? Share your experiences here
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