Christmas Contact Checklist
15 December 2016 by Charlotte Knappett
Christmas is a very emotive time for everyone, particularly when relationships have broken down and parents are separated. Children are enthralled with the excitement of Father Christmas, being off school and all the joys that come with the festive period.
For the majority of children their wish is to spend time with both of their parents (and extended families) and for their parents to get on. It is understandable that this is not always easy when relationships breakdown and the arrangements for the care of children over Christmas period can cause difficulties.
Here are our tips to try to assist parents making arrangements for their children over the Christmas period.
- The importance of sharing special events. Christmas is a special time for children. They will treasure those times and remember them for the rest of their lives. It could also be one that negatively impacts on their memories of the Christmas period. As well as ensuring that this is a special time, appreciate that Christmas needs to be shared with the other parent.
- Plan ahead. Try to plan in advance rather than leave things to the last minute. Therefore, if you have not made plans already, try to do so now.
- “In my child’s shoes”. Try to think about the arrangements from a child’s perspective. Seek to ensure that the children have some contact with both of you. Take into account older children and teenagers’ views regarding any planning.
- Communicate, be open and honest. “Listen, consider, reflect, explain …” There is nothing more important than being able to communicate effectively. Let the other parent know of your plans before your book or make any commitment: explain clearly what the plan is and the thinking behind it, listen to the other person’s view and try to be flexible and compromise.
- Keep your children informed about the plans over the Christmas period. For example, inform them of where will they be, when and with whom and who is picking them up and dropping them off.
- Minimise conflict. Try to keep interactions with the other parent cordial. Children do not wish to see the adults around them arguing. This is upsetting and distressing for them. Avoid interacting with the other parent if you suspect it might lead to conflict. Instead, try to arrange for another family member to pick up/ drop the children off.
- Try to be cooperative. Whilst, at times, the other parent may appear to be acting unreasonably, try to think about the future and the ongoing relationship as parents and not just the immediate issue.
- The all-important Christmas presents! Don`t get into a “gift competition”. Try to coordinate what you are buying for your child with the other parent so that there is no duplication of the Christmas presents. It may be that despite your separation it is possible for you both to purchase a joint present for your child to demonstrate unity as parents.
- Christmas Day does come round every single year and there will be other Christmases. There are many ways in which parents share Christmas. Either they can divide the day itself or they have a separate Christmas Day on Boxing Day and alternate the following year. Try to be inventive and fair.
Do you need to record the agreement in writing? It may be a good idea to put in writing what has been agreed so you can both refer to it in the event that there is any confusion with regards to the arrangements. There is always so much going on over the Christmas period that small details may be forgotten.