Christmas day arrangements are challenging enough for a family with both parents under the one roof. But for parents who are separated and have children living in different households, organising Christmas day and getting just the right presents for their children can be even harder.
Most separated or divorced parents come to sensible arrangements during the holidays for the benefit of their children, especially on Christmas Day.
For example, agreeing on such matters as dropping off and picking up children on the day and sharing their time fairly with both their families. These types of arrangements make sure their children enjoy a happy and worry-free Christmas.
But unfortunately for some separated families, Christmas can be a battlefield of tension and conflict. Some parents may refuse to cooperate, make unreasonable demands or try to monopolise their children.
So what should parents do if faced with a situation like this?
Searching for Parental Peace at Christmas
When faced with a tense and conflict situation, parents may feel the right thing to do is to stand up for the rights of children and spend time with both families over Christmas.
But sometimes this is not the best response. Everyone wants a happy Christmas and to spend it with their children and loved ones. But it’s important to remember what the festive season is all about and who it means the most to.
Christmas is about peace and goodwill and it’s especially important for children.
In a recent article, well-known Canadian counsellor named Gary Direnfeld suggested focussing on finding parental peace at Christmas.
In other words, if there is a family dispute situation, the best thing parents can do is to stand back and not let Christmas become a time of conflict.
Direnfeld referred to cases where parents placed their children’s needs front and centre. They allowed their children to open their presents in peace, and enjoy the day without the concern of their parents’ disputes and problems.
These parents chose to allow their children to spend the whole of Christmas day or the Christmas New Year period at the former partner’s home. The children weren’t made to travel between two family homes and share their time with two families.
Instead, these parents opted to make arrangements for an alternative time to celebrate with their children. This created a less disruptive and more peaceful experience, overall.
In many cases, this generosity of spirit also led to the other parent giving some ground as well. The children remembered this afterwards and appreciated that their parents were willing to get along and resolve their conflicts for their children’s sake. A win-win all around.
As Gary Direnfeld suggested, sometimes the greatest gift that separated or divorced parents can give to their children at Christmas, is the gift of parental peace.