My name is Holly and I am 7. This year I would like a Karaoke machine. I would also like Disney Infinity for the Xbox but most of all I want mummy to stop crying and daddy to stop shouting. I don’t think they like each other anymore and that makes me sad. Daddy doesn’t sleep here anymore. Miss fig, my teacher says that you are smart and that you can keep an eye on everyone so that you know where to go. Is that true? I want to see my daddy but mummy says that if I stay with daddy on Christmas Eve, you won’t come to me. I want things to go back to normal but mummy says that they can’t. Mummy says that daddy has been naughty this year and that he won’t get any presents but I don’t think he has. She thinks that daddy should be punished but I don’t know why. I miss him. I see him sometimes but he doesn’t smile any more. He always looks angry. He tells me secrets which I am not allowed to tell anyone about. They are usually about mummy but mummy also tells me secrets that I cannot tell anyone about and they are usually about daddy. I like keeping secrets but these ones make me feel bad. Oh yeah please can I also have a talking Olaf from Frozen. My friend Donnah has one and its really cool.
For some parents, this will be difficult to swallow. For others, it will not ring true. Separation can be difficult for children to understand and often they are the ones that are caught in the middle.
Aside from the religious connotations, Christmas is for children. It is supposed to be magical and exciting. Children are precious and they only have one childhood. They will soon grow up and realise that Santa is not real. Whilst they are young it is really important that they get to have the best possible time they can.
Both parents will inevitably want to have their children with them for Christmas so that they can watch their faces light up on Christmas morning. There is nothing wrong with this. However, some parents will want to ensure that the other parent doesn’t get to see them as a means of punishment. Where there is acrimony, parents can often forget that children are not supposed to witness arguments about who will have them on Christmas morning. They forget that they should not be made aware of one parent’s feelings about the other and sometimes they forget that the best presents are supposed to be from Santa. It is not a competition.
The deepest concern for parents should be their children’s happiness. Involving them in disputes can cause emotional harm. This must be avoided at all costs.
In order to give children the best chance of happiness at Christmas and throughout the year, communication between the parents is key. Early planning is also very helpful. Parents need to ask themselves what is right for these particular children. At Christmas, parents should consider whether the children would be happier spending one year waking up in one of their homes and the next year waking up in their other home. Alternatively, is it better for these children to see both of their parents on Christmas day? What about the wider family arrangements for both sides of the family? Shouldn’t the children enjoy time with both families? If the relationship between parents is amicable, can they spend Christmas together for the sake of the children without causing confusion or exposing the children to confrontation?
Whatever you decide, it is not going to be perfect for everyone. It may not even be perfect for the children. There will always be some upset when their parents are separated but it is crucial that parents try to ensure that they make the best of an unfortunate situation.
Some parents will ask children what they want and some children will say one thing to one parent and something completely different to the other. This is typical because they want to please both of their parents. So it is never appropriate to rely solely on what the children have said and use it as a stick with which to beat the other parent.
Where an agreement cannot be reached for whatever reason, heartache, anger and legal fees are likely to follow. If negotiations between solicitors do not lead to a suitable arrangement, the next stage could be to consider whether an application to the Court for an Order should be made. However, by December, it is often not possible to get the case heard before Christmas. It is then for the parties to try and make the best of a bad situation. The onus must be on the parents acting reasonably and in the best interests of their children
Now consider this:
My name is Holly and I am 7. This year I would like a Karaoke machine. I would also like Disney Infinity for the Xbox but most of all I want some glittery ice skates. Miss fig, my teacher says that you are smart and that you can keep an eye on everyone so that you know where to go. Is that true? I am going to be staying with my mummy this year. I stayed with daddy last year. My mummy told me that she had made sure you knew where I would be last year to deliver my presents but I was really happy when you delivered some to mummy’s and some to daddy’s. Can you do that again this year? Pleeeeeease? Oh yeah please can I also have a talking Olaf from Frozen. My friend Donnah has one and its really cool.
Surely this letter to Santa is preferable to the one at the beginning of this article? Holly’s parents still do not like each other and do not agree on everything but they do have one common aim – to make sure that Holly is not affected by the breakdown in their relationship.
Make Christmas fun and put aside your own differences for the sake of your children. Not only would the children enjoy Christmas but it is likely to be less chaotic and more enjoyable for you all.
Have a very happy Christmas!
Image by Ruth_W via Flickr