Separated Christmas

Many parents seperated from their children can feel lost and stressed at Christmas. Christmas can be a stressful time for families. 

This could be because they either can’t see their kids or seeing them means spending time with an ex-partner or family members. Elvedina, who manages our contact service where separated families come together, said,

“It can be a highly emotional time; add in the stress and expectations of December and Christmas, and it can cause resentment. The most important thing is to focus on the children and their needs. They don’t need to see parents competing for their affection with presents or undermining each other; they need to feel secure and know they are loved. It can be daunting if this is the first Christmas without your children.”

Here she shares some tips for parents and families 

7 Separated Christmas tips

1. Where do you stand legally? 

First things first, where do you stand legally? Sometimes families have certain days they are legally entitled to see their children. If this falls on Christmas, it could mean you have little control over where the children spend Christmas Day. It’s important to know where you stand as soon as possible.  

2. Plan and be united

If you can, talk to your child’s other parent or carers well in advance and arrange what will happen at Christmas. Don’t let the children choose where they want to go; this should be a shared decision between parents or the children’s care givers. 

3. Share the day

Is it possible for you to have the children in the morning and then them go to their other family for the late afternoon and evening? Every family is different, but there are other ways to divide the day.

4. Create another special day

Lots of families have more than one” Christmas day” kids love having two fun days with Christmas games, dinners and crackers.

5. Call on the day

Can you arrange a video call or a Netflix Christmas teleparty with them on Christmas day or evening?  

6. Look after you

If you can’t spend Christmas with your children, make the day about you. Can you do things that will help lift your mood? Helping others has been scientifically proven to make us feel more positive. There are lots of volunteering opportunities around Christmas. If that’s not for you, try meeting with other friends and family. Resist the temptation to spend the day on your own (unless that is what will truly make you feel better). Another option is to get out for a Christmas Day run or walk.

7. You can only control your response

If things are not going to plan or the other parent isn’t doing things how you think they should be done. Remember, you can only control your actions. Strong feelings and resentment can rise; think about what you can do differently to minimise the impact on your children. Let a friend know you might need someone to talk to on Christmas Day. Most of the helplines are open over Christmas and are there to help you work through issues or to have someone to talk to.

Samaritans – 116 123
Shout – Text 85258
Mind  –  0300 123 3393
No Panic  –  0300 7729844
Campaign Against Living Miserably  –  0800 58 58 58
Drinkline – 0300 123 1110
Talk to Frank – 0300 123 6600
National Debtline  –  0808 808 4000
Shelter  –  0808 800 4444
National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247
National Rape Crisis Helpline  –  0808 802 9999