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Todays’ blog is written by Lorrie Brook, a friend and colleague and the creator of Our Children Australia. With a background in Family Law Lorries’ passion and her reason for creating Our Children Australia is to provide a resource that protects children from the conflict that can arise between separated parents. Our Children Australia is Australia’s first website offering software which helps parents manage shared custody peacefully and protects their kids from being used as messengers. You can find out more about Our Children Australia by visiting the website www.ourchildren.com.au.
It is that time of year for separated parents to remind themselves to act with empathy and sharpen their compromise skills to protect their children during the lead-up to the Christmas break.
It goes without saying that the Christmas season is often the most stressful time of year for separated parents navigating through shared custody. It can be an emotional holiday break, as each parent does their best to make the most of arrangements that are usually not their ideal preference.
Making the transition to being respectful co-parents who are no longer a couple can be extremely challenging. The impact these changes can have on family dynamics at Christmas can be significant. As hard as it may be, parents should consider the flow on effect conflict can have on their children, and to remember that their kids look to them as their role model.
With this in mind, what are the common issues of conflict arising at this time of year?
- Sharing the joy that is Christmas morning
Waking up on Christmas morning and seeing the joy on your children’s faces is so precious that each and everyone of us want to be there to experience this. This is normal. Unfortunately though, the obstacles of life mean that when you separate chances are this can’t occur. So in these scenarios parents need to be flexible when planning the schedule for Christmas. For most of us it is unrealistic to expect that you will be able to do this every year. Chances are that this will occur every other year. It is the children that suffer the most when parents kick their heels in over schedules. It is always best to take a longer-term view on what will be best for both family units.
- What gifts are you giving your children?
Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for their to be a silent competition between you and your ex when it comes to buying Christmas gifts for the kids. This can be easily avoided – all you need to do is ask. Make an effort to speak about your plans in advance; showing sensitivity where there is a difference in income levels.
- What plans do you have for the day?
Complicated schedules and long drives between locations can result in grumpy parents and grumpy children. It is best to keep arrangements as simple as possible and avoid late night drop offs which can be particularly exhausting. Always think of your children when you are planning your day. Don’t forget that they will want to be able to play with their presents!
- Have they eaten anything but sugar?
It is best to establish dietary and household ground rules for the Christmas season with your co-parent early to avoid any conflict over the holidays. Complaints around excessive sugar consumption and late bedtimes are common, which can result in exhausted, grumpy and cranky children. Acting with common sense and sensitivity towards your co-parent as well as honouring the agreements made should help prevent any of these issues arising.
- Have you left on time?
Christmas day is such a special day for everyone. People are celebrating this wonderful time of year and our children are usually the main focus. The joy they bring to us at this time of year is priceless. Time has a way of moving too fast when we are having fun but it can be very distressing for the other parent if time gets away and you are late for changeover.
Always remember that you would be upset if you were missing out as well. Keeping to agreed timelines where possible should be a priority to nurture goodwill between co-parents.
Share your thoughts, comments or personal story via email email@example.com
With love and gratitude
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