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With Christmas less than a month away, this is the time of year separated parents begin to get anxious about the holidays. We often hear,“But it’s my year to have the kids”; “But I need to have them on Christmas morning”; “But the kids always see my family on Christmas”; “But the kids saw your family last year” or “He/She only thinks of him/herself”. Lost in these phrases are thoughts about the children themselves.
What would they like?
What’s the best part of the holidays for them?
Who are their close extended family members, even if they aren’t YOUR relatives?
Who is available for Christmas Eve this year? And Christmas morning? And Christmas dinner? And Boxing Day?
Does one parent have to work at Christmas, and if so, how can that be managed?
It is tough for parents, who are in the midst of their own emotional turmoil, to truly consider the children. So please remember this: you can give your children the BEST Christmas gift ever, by choosing NOT to fight! When parents separate, traditions are of course impacted. The children now have two homes instead of one and often many sets of grandparents, new step-parents and even additional siblings. Your Christmas will never be the same as it was prior to your separation, but can you allow it to be different and ultimately just as great?
When thinking about Christmas, can you consider if there are traditions, important to the CHILDREN, that could be maintained? Could you allow a child to take part in a tradition, with the other parent, because the child enjoys it? If one parent has to work on Christmas Day, might that parent have the opportunity to take the children to the Santa Clause Parade this year? And perhaps an overnight on December 23 with a special morning on the 24th? If you are going to divide up Christmas Day, perhaps the time could be 1 or 2 pm instead of 11 am when presents have just been opened? If you live a distance apart, does it make sense to divide up the day? Does the child want to spend a couple hours in the car? Or could you instead have your special Day on the 26th or 27th? I expect your child won’t object to more than one Christmas morning.
I know it’s tough NOT to have your children with you on special occasions. If you can, in advance, think of positive things you can do to fill your day. You can visit family you might not otherwise see. In Muskoka you can almost always go for a snowshoe on Christmas Day. You can volunteer to bring cheer to a less fortunate person or group. I just read you can bring shelter dogs home for a holiday. There are so many options, but we need to think outside of the box. Try mediation if you can. I promise, it will be easier if you can remind yourself - You are giving your children PEACE for Christmas. It’s what they want most. I wish that for you all.
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