More threads by HA


Christmas is pressure point for separated families
17 December 2004

Separated parents facing the prospect of Christmas without their children or another argument with their ex over contact issues are being offered support by national charity Parentline Plus this year.

The charity, which receives thousands of calls to its 24 hour national helpline from separated parents struggling to make contact and relations with an ex work, say with a bit of planning and communication Christmas can be a good one this year.

Thousands of children experience the break up of their families every year, with the latest census revealing that almost 1 in 10 households in England and Wales are headed by a lone parent. The break up of a family can be traumatic for both parents and children, and research shows that where it is safe, continued contact between the child and the family members who are no longer living with them is important to their wellbeing.

"Christmas can be a pressure point for separated parents, especially if relations aren't good", says Dorit Braun, chief executive of Parentline Plus. "It is important that parents can be supported to find a way of communicating and working together for the sake of their children. Christmas can be a specially poignant time for children who are reminded that their family life has changed."

With this in mind, Parentline Plus recommends that parents negotiate the time spent with their children over Christmas and to involve children in those plans. It's not just what's convenient for the parents - children need to be happy with the arrangements too.

Some tips for families who have undergone change this Christmas

1. Put the kids first. Christmas is a time for children to enjoy themselves, have fun and not feel torn between their family. Focusing on your child will make you feel better too.

2. Planning and good communication are the key to the success of Christmas. Children will feel happier if they know what is going to happen in advance.

3. Take a fair approach over Christmas with your ex and their family. Children need continuing contact with grandparents, aunts and uncles from both sides of the family.

4. If you aren't spending Christmas day with your children, suggest having your own special day on a different date whereby you get to do all the things you would normally do on the day.

5. If you can, talk to your ex about what you are buying so you don't end up with a disappointed child and two frustrated parents who have bought duplicate presents. You may even want to agree on a set budget so you avoid competing with your ex.

6. Make the time special and try and make the most of the situation. An ex having the time with your children is important and also give you time off to see friends and recharge your batteries.

7. Remember as your kids get older they will want to be involved in the planning and may want time to do their own thing as well.

8. If you are a resident parent make sure your ex knows about and has the opportunity to go to your child's nativity plays and events at school etc.

9. If you are used to your ex doing all the shopping, feeling overwhelmed and don't know what to do, talk to your ex and ask if they will share the kids' wish list. You can also talk to grandparents as they may have some ideas.

Parentline Plus services
A free confidential 24-hour helpline 0808 800 2222
A free textphone for people with a speech or hearing impairment 0800 783 6783
Email help
Parents Together - groups and workshops
Information leaflets
A helpful website
One to One parent support services
Training for professionals
Volunteer opportunities

Article Source
Parenting Programmes' Alliance | Family Lives

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
This is always a busy time of year for people in my profession. For those of you who are happy with life and who will be with loved ones, I wish you joy and peace. If you can reach out to someone who is in mourning or who is separated from loved ones or who feels s/he has nothing to celebrate, please do.
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.