Divorce isn’t a topic anyone wants to talk about, simply because it’s not a nice thing and nobody plans to go through it in life. However, it might have happened in the distant past, or it’s on the horizon, or you’re still in negotiations with a Tampa divorce lawyer – or whoever your divorce lawyer is. But one of the trickiest times of year for divorced families, particularly fresh ones, is just around the corner; Christmas.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, family and giving, but it can have some awkward or heart straining moments. However, you should be trying to keep life as normal and happy as possible for your children. So here are some do’s and don’t’s for the Christmas period.
DO plan in advance. Figure out between the two of you how to separate time, maybe they stay at yours Christmas Eve and going there for Christmas day, and then it’s the other way around next year. If you live near each other, maybe you can split the day in half. But plan it in advance, and, if you can, include your child in the planning so that they have some control over what they’re doing.
DON’T compete over Christmas. All it creates is a negative atmosphere and a norm in the child’s life for their parents to spoil them. Set a budget together and stick to it on both sides. If your child wants one big present, why not go halves? You might not like it, but the unified front will be a fantastic gift.
DO be civil – this goes for the entire time you are raising your child. There is nothing more damaging to a child’s relationship with their parents than hearing them speak badly of the other.
DON’T fight. Sometimes having a small argument is unavoidable, but it should always be away from the kids. And at Christmas? Just reign in that temper for a couple of days and deal with it later on – if you really have to.
DO involve the other half of the family. If you have been able to maintain a good relationship with your ex’s family, even if it’s just about the children, then involve them at Christmas. Send them a card or some chocolates, offer to pop round with the kids if your ex can’t and keep that bridge open for you. Be the bigger person in these situations for your kids.
DON’T have conflicting Christmas rules. Christmas is one of those days where everyone has different routines and traditions that don’t make any sense any other day of the year – like champers and orange juice at 9 am. But try and keep some of the rules the same in both households – like not eating all the Christmas chocolate for breakfast, this stops the dreaded ‘well mom/dad lets me!’
DO go shopping for your ex on behalf of your child. As horrible as it is to acknowledge, you probably still know that person a lot better than most, and unless they have really close grandparents or aunts and uncles on that side, your kids probably don’t have anyone to go shopping with. So until they’re old enough, help them to get, or even make a present for their other parent.