13 Tips for Child Contact over Christmas and New Year Holidays
Top Tips to avoid arguments at Christmas
Christmas is a family time. It is a time when families gather together. It is a time for sharing and enjoying each others company. It is an especially exciting time for children. Sadly, many children have families, where for one reason or another their parents have separated. The parents of many children live in separate homes. Children will also have full and half siblings living separately.
The Courts will deal with emergencies over Christmas. There is generally a splurge of cases about Christmas Contact before Christmas. Solicitors often deal with increased enquires about Divorce and Separation after the New Year.
Unless there is an urgent issue about the safety of a child, the Courts will not be interested in deciding new cases about a child’s arrangements, over the holiday period.
Parents may still have to sort out the finer details of their arrangements , or problems may crop up over the holiday. Here are some helpful ideas for parents and grandparents;
1. Christmas is a time for children
There maybe unresolved disagreements and arguments between the adults. These can be resolved in the New Year. Focus on your children. Can you both manage a truce? Remember that the armies even managed to have a truce on Christmas Day in 1914 in World War One. No one can remember who started that truce. What Children do not need is family wars. They want to relax and have fun with the people they love.
2. Keep any disagreements away from children
If you need to talk about something; don’t do it on the doorstep; speak on the phone after bedtime instead.
Don’t say bad things about each other to your children.
3. Keep to what you have agreed
This is another way of avoiding argument. Be on time. Be ready. Save big problems until the New Year. Make the most of the present; whatever that brings.
4. If you have not agreed arrangements yet, be realistic about what you ask for and what the other is willing/able to deliver
If you are not seeing your children at the moment, there is no point asking for overnight stays. Be realistic; a phone call? sending a card? if contact has to be supervised, or there has to be someone else present,; think, who can you both trust to be there? How can you work the arrangements into the various family gatherings? If you ask for something that is realistic, you are more likely to achieve it. Think about how the next 2 weeks can work. Bigger problems can wait until the New Year.
5. Keep the arrangements safe
Don’t feel pressured into agreeing to something that’s puts your children into a situation that is not safe. If it is not safe for there to be contact in November, then it is hardly likely to be safe in December. In which case, a phone call, or some presents may be enough. In some cases, a card or nothing might have to be the only option.
Don’t drink (or take drugs) and drive.
6. Think about who the children would like to see
Mum and Dad, Brothers and Sisters, step or half Brothers and Sisters, Grandparents, etc.
7. Make a point of being nice, or at least civil with each other
Arguments are no good for anyone. Keep it civil. Sort it out properly in the New Year.
8. Interpret emails and text messages in a positive way
Texts are great, but they can be misinterpreted, sometimes disastrously. Try to read everything as if it ends in 🙂 or 😀 and not 🙁 or even a >:0 or a >:/
9. Don’t overdo it with presents
You may be doing OK, or you may not be seeing your children much and want to really remind them of you, but overdoing the presents is not a good idea. The other may be stretched financially, and may resent what you are spending, because they cannot afford to do likewise, or you could end up with a competition over who can buy the most (perhaps of the same things!). Try to agree budgets in advance. Children like presents, but they prefer laughter and happiness. Fun and goodwill is more important.
10. Don’t consume alcohol/substances when you have the children with you, or are collecting or returning them
If you arrive to collect your children smelling of alcohol, don’t expect the other parent to let you take them off! If you return them, smelling of alcohol, the next visit or visits may not happen! If you want to party? do it later.
11. You are not going to sort out big problems over the holidays.
You just are not. The best time to sort out the arrangements for next Christmas is in the Spring, not at the last minute. Concentrate on making the best of what you have.
12. If things go wrong, consider mediation early in the New Year
Mediation is a process. It is about parents working better together and rebuilding trust and communications.
13. If things go wrong, get some Legal Advice early in the New Year
If you email a contact page (like mine) please say, when you are hoping to have an appointment. If it hasn’t worked then the sooner you try and sort things out the better. Time usually makes problems worse.
If you or your children are unsafe, then the Police will always be able to help. Many Solicitors (like me) will be checking messages over the holiday period.
Remember; Christmas is supposed to be the season of goodwill to all men (and Women)
We hope that you have a good holiday and that your children do too
Seasons Greetings from Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors