Dad dot info form. Ask questions, get answers

Kid-tastic – The Gift That Matters, This Christmas

Christmas is meant to be the celebration of a new life; a time of togetherness and rest, ahead of the renewing of resolutions and dreams for the New Year. Yet, it is also an intense time that creates stress and distress. One sharp, misplaced comment can trigger long-overdue discussions about separation and divorce, between parents in unhealthy relationships and marriages. Meanwhile, for already single mothers and fathers, Christmas can take its emotional toll, with the strong temptation to be in “survival mode”.  So, here are our Top Five Tips for keeping relationships on a positive footing this Christmas


1. Manage expectations and communicate with respect

Talk with your partner/ex and children about how you’d all like to experience Christmas. Think what are your three to five “non-negotiables”? Shaping your festive season with an “outcome” in mind flushes out what you agree on – and what you don’t. It’s so easy to bumble through Christmas, silently seething with frustration; decide what you need to do differently, so that it’s a positive experience for everyone. 

If you’re “negotiating” Christmas with your ex, take a deep breath and remember that you once loved your former spouse. Respect the fact that you are both human beings who deserve to have the best festive season possible – and that your children really do need to be at the heart of your discussions and choices. This is not a time for venting anger, “having a dig”, or playing the role of victim/martyr. Be the adult and keep your conversations civil and focused on what’s best for your children and everyone else involved. Once you’ve agreed your plans, do your best to stick to them. It’s not fair on anyone to unravel them at the last minute.

2. Manage the pressure valve with your personal values

It’s common to be swept up in other people’s issues and judgements, making them our own to fix. You can only control how you think, feel and behave. Living by your values, especially when it comes to those challenging moments, will stand you in good stead for a healthier Christmas.

Your ex probably still knows just how to “press your buttons” and it’s easy to be on even more “on edge” at this time of the year. Be true to what you stand for and don’t get emotionally hijacked by your ex’s – or your own – toxity, especially when conversations get difficult. Be the “bigger person” and choose your battles wisely and know when to compromise and let things go.

3. Keeping perspective

Choosing to be “resilient” is a powerful and nurturing skill. It will serve you well, not only for Christmas, but far into the future. Think, speak and act positively; be thankful and grateful for what you’ve got. There’s always someone in a worse situation than you. Try and be present in the “here and now”; keep things positive, in perspective and don’t sweat the small stuff. It’ll help you keep the communication channels open with your ex and health of your co-parenting relationshipship in a better state. Your children will also come to appreciate your wisdom shining through – even if it is a few years down the line.  Ask yourself: “In a year’s time, will this really matter”? While you’re at it, why not also give yourself the gift of forgiveness and letting go of things that no longer serve you well. Christmas is a great time to reflect on what’s gone well, what hasn’t and what you need and want to do differently.

4. Manage your time

You can create some much-needed downtime for yourself, by getting organised and planning ahead. Do you have budgeted meal plans? Are there meals you can prepare and freeze in advance? Does it really matter if your mince pies aren’t homemade, this year? Is it really magical to wrap presents in the early hours of Christmas Day, because you “never got around to it”? Doing as much as you can – ahead of time – will free up precious moments to spend with your children, other loved ones – and dare I say it – yourself! Being organised will, at the very least, give you more headspace for thinking about other things.

5. Don’t compete for affection

If you’re going through relationship/marital issues, or you’re a single parent, your children don’t benefit at all from being alienated from their other parent. Do your best to make sure you/your ex enjoy time with the children, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or via Skype/FaceTime. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Your kids need to feel secure and loved. That can come from a laughter-filled walk or sharing a bowl of popcorn during a movie afternoon on the sofa; it doesn’t have to mean un-wrapping an overload of gadgets and sweets. 

Whatever you do, be your best self and make it a kid-tastic festive season. Why not bring out the remnants of your inner child… the magic of Christmas is in all of us. It’s just that sometimes we just need to dig a little deeper to find it. Remember, you’re the vital ingredient to making this Christmas special for your children – and yourself.


About the author

Helene Bradley-Ritt is a divorce wellbeing coach and associate of Dialogue First – a nationwide network of divorce lawyers, family mediators and support professionals, helping separating families communicate throughout.

Visitors to are entitled to a free telephone consultation with a Dialogue First family lawyer.

o arrange your free telephone consultation, click here

Please note: participating law firms will be closed over the festive period so call backs won’t be made until early January 2018. 

Related entries

How do contact centres work – Q & A

How do contact centres work – Q & A

We know that using a contact centre will be hard for you and for your children and it is something that you might have lots of questions or concerns about. We have tried to address some of the more common of these, here for you: My child is refusing/scared/unsure...

10 tips to support your child after break-up

10 tips to support your child after break-up

In 2020 ran a survey asking 1000 separated parents about their experiences of divorce or separation and they generously shared their concerns and most importantly their tried and tested solutions. If you are looking for ways to save your children from being...

Latest entries

How To Keep Your Child Safe Online

How To Keep Your Child Safe Online

As a parent of a 10 year old who is rapidly approaching the age where he will be getting his own phone, I’m concerned about ensuring he isn’t exposed to a cavalcade of disturbing things online. I’m worrying about bullying, about him being contacted or making friends...

21 Things You Didn’t Know About Japan

21 Things You Didn’t Know About Japan

The Olympics have started! Despite a lack of fans (crowd noise will be piped into the stadiums instead) the event is still as important as ever and makes for great summer viewing. So at Dad.Info we have rounded up 21 interesting facts about Japan to both liberally...

How To Have A Holiday At Home

How To Have A Holiday At Home

If you’re anything like me and flip flopped about for ages, unsure what to do about booking a summer holiday this year amid constantly- changing Covid news, then you’ll be finding yourself at home for the summer. But while we may not be able to dip our toes in the...

Pin It on Pinterest