High Conflict Christmas In Two Homes Survival Guide.

co-parenting divorce May 12, 2020

© 2019 Andrea LaRochelle,RFM

Do you feel like your children are *missing out* by not spending time with both their parents on Christmas Day?

Have your children become a pawn in your ongoing parental conflict and Christmas is just another example of that?

When you are falling in love, planning your future and creating a family, rarely do you envision a plan for what might happen should the relationship fail. When you first had children, you mentally created a picture of what Christmas was going to look like for your family. That picture likely didn’t include sharing the holidays, alternating Christmas and New Year’s, not seeing your children open presents on December 25, Christmas in two homes.

It wasn’t the picture your children mentally created for Christmas either.

Ouch.  Did that sting a little bit?

Good. I wanted to make sure I got your attention; what I’m about to tell you is important.

Often parents focus on what their children are missing out on rather than what they are feeling and needing.  Parents worry about what they believe their children DESERVE rather than what their children NEED. The only thing children NEED at Christmas (and every day, for that matter) is to know that they are loved unconditionally, regardless of their parents’ inability to get along.

You can’t change your reality, or your children’s reality. (Unless, of course, you and your children’s other parent are able to put your differences aside and celebrate Christmas together).

You need to let go of your Christmas expectations from the past and start creating new Christmas traditions. Help your children create new magical Christmas memories, that they will look back on fondly.

Christmas isn’t just a day celebrated on December 25th, Christmas is about the feelings and emotions we attach to the day. Those feelings and emotions can be created on any day of the year.

Choose to let go of your attachment to December 25th, the day, and start creating the Christmas feelings and emotions you want your children to associate with the experience of Christmas..

How the Heck Do You Do That?

3 Steps to Letting Go of your Christmas Day Expectations for your Children

1.  Focus on what is important to your children, and why. Your children may ask for the newest & shiniest toy on the shelf at Toys R’ Us, but if you quiet yourself and really tune into their NEEDS, you may surprise yourself to learn what they really want. Generally, as long as their *mom* or *dad* is happy on the day Christmas is celebrated, then they are happy. Your happiness is what your children need and want for Christmas this year. Choose to put on a happy face and be present with your children this Christmas, on whatever day that might be and however Christmas might look this year.


2.  Focus on the memories you want your children to remember when reflecting on their childhood Christmas experiences with you. Your children are going to remember Christmas one of two ways – positively or negatively. You, and only you, can help shape the memories they will have around Christmas with you. Their other parent may take them to Disneyland, buy them expensive presents or, for one reason or another, put limits on how much time you are able to spend with your children at Christmas. You can’t change any of that. Those are memories, good or bad, their other parent is choosing to give your children. What memories can you help create? What feelings do you want your children to connect to their Christmas experience with you?“ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

3.  Focus your time and energy on your children this Christmas. Parents often romanticize what Christmas is like for intact families; family board games by the fire, sledding & skating with hot chocolate afterwards, caroling while decorating the Christmas tree, laughs of joy Christmas morning. Intact families have their Christmas struggles too. They argue over who knotted the Christmas lights, who will take little Joey to the walk in clinic because he sprained his ankle sledding or skating. Intact families bicker through Christmas Day because the kids were up at 5am to see what Santa brought and 15 people are showing up for dinner.

Andrea LaRochelle is an author, trainer, and speaker with the High Conflict Institute and serves on the board of the Alberta Family Mediation Society. She is a high conflict co-parenting expert and a registered mediator with over fifteen years experience helping families through the challenges of separation and divorce. She teaches co-parenting communication and guides parents to manage conflict more effectively, so their kids can focus on being kids.

Andrea’s published books include: The High-Conflict Co-Parenting Survival Guide; I’m Done!: Take Control of Your High Conflict Divorce; and the Goodbye Bugs children's series (Goodbye Angry Bugs, Goodbye Teary Bugs, and Goodbye Worry Bugs).


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