**This is a sponsored blog post from Consilia Legal**
What does Christmas mean to you?
The true meaning of Christmas means something different to different people. To me, it means ‘family time’ and a time for sharing and forgiveness. It is a joyous occasion and a time to be thankful.
For separated families, Christmas can sometimes be a difficult time. Often both parents want to put out the carrot for Rudolf and the mince pie for Santa and tuck their children into bed on Christmas Eve. It’s also a magical time to see a child’s little face take in the true magic of Christmas and open their presents on Christmas morning.
As a family solicitor and mediator, I see more often than not, that separated parents will agree to take it in turns so that their children can spend Christmas morning with each of them. In some cases I have dealt with recently, it has been agreed for the children to spend Christmas morning with one parent and then be collected at lunchtime and have Christmas dinner with the other parent and rotate this each year. This is a great way for the children to spend quality time with each parent on Christmas day and all experience ‘quality family time’. Unfortunately, due to distance this is not always possible.
Remaining Child Focused
Sometimes parents can struggle to agree arrangements for Christmas. As a mediator, I will sit with the parents together and discuss how arrangements can be put in place for children to share this magical experience with both parents. When looking at arrangements at Christmas time, it is important for each parent to remain child focused and concentrate on what is best for the child as opposed to their own thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes children tell their parents what they think they want to hear in order to avoid upsetting them. Children want to please both parents and if they know their answer will upset a parent they may not want to express their true feelings.
It is important to take into consideration when a child’s wishes and feelings should be considered, based upon their age and maturity. As a rule of thumb, the court take into account a child’s wishes and feelings from 10 years of age and over but this depends on the maturity of the child individually. When a child is under the age of 10, the parents of that child will need to make decisions that are in the best interests of that child and if an agreement cannot be reached then either parent can ask the court to make a decision.
Some Tips To Help
Christmas can be a difficult time for separated families. I have detailed below my top 5 tips to separated parents to avoid hostility and conflict over the festive period:
1. COMPROMISE – listen to one another and try to make arrangements which will enable your child or children to spend time with each of you over the festive period;
2. LISTEN – listen to what your child wants and ensure that any feelings about their decision, whether good or bad are kept from them;
3. FAMILY TIME – remember a child has the right to have family time with each parent at Christmas and it is a time for sharing;
4. NEGATIVITY – avoid any arguments, derogatory comments or venting in front of your child or children which will only upset them and make them feel anxious over Christmas;
5. COMMUNICATION – this is key to successfully co-parent and will help to avoid further hostility , allowing you to negotiate and compromise on arrangements for your children.
It is not always possible to have productive conversations about delicate subjects like Christmas arrangements without help from professionals. At Consilia Legal we are experienced family mediators and solicitors and we would be happy to go through your options with you at a FREE consultation. We are fully supportive to parents and try to minimise parental conflict as best we can. We understand how important it is for both parents to sit down and communicate with each other and try negotiate arrangements that work well for them and more importantly for any child involved.
For more information in regards to mediation or if you would like to speak to a family solicitor, please contact myself, Sarah Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01133229222