As many of you know I am lucky enough to have a stepdaughter. I also have lots of friends with stepkids or who are separated from their children’s father. This can be a very tricky time of year when it comes to making arrangements for Christmas visits.
Of course we all want to be with our children on Christmas morning to see the excitement on their faces when they discover ‘Santa’s been!’ but this can be virtually impossible when parents have separated. With the added complication of new families put in the mix or long distance a shared day is not always going to work.
There is no right or wrong answer for this. Nope I’m afraid I don’t have the magic answer. There is no ‘rule’ over how it should be. As parents and grown adults we need to learn to be reasonable, to compromise, to maybe put our feet in the others shoes and just take a minute to think how they feel. Above all we need to think about our kids and how they feel. If your kids are old enough to think logically and understand the situation then ask their opinion. Ask them how they would like to spend Christmas. You may be surprised by what they come up with. Maybe if things are amicable enough you could all spend the day together – believe me I know families who do this and it can work!
My stepdaughter was only 10 months old when we got together. Her parents were together for her first Christmas but separated shortly after – (at this point I would like to make it clear I had no involvement in their separation!). When it came to her first Christmas after they’d split they both agreed that every year we alternate who she is with for Christmas. That way both parents get to spend Christmas with her and so do her younger siblings who have arrived over the years at each household. We have stuck to this every year and it works really well. This year is her Mum’s year to have her for Christmas so we will pick her up on Boxing Day morning and have her until the day before she goes back to school. Next year we will pick her up the day she finishes school and have her until Boxing Day, and so on. She gets the best of both worlds and enjoys getting to have a Christmas at each house instead of feeling like she has to choose and potentially upset one of her parents. I know things aren’t always amicable enough between parents for this sort of arrangement and I am forever grateful that we have a good relationship with my Stepdaughter’s Mum so we get to spend lots of time with her. If it was that easy for everyone we would have some much happier kids in this world (and parents!).
Like I said, this isn’t me saying how it should be done. This is me saying this is how we do it and it works for us. It may not work for your family and that’s fine. As long as the feelings of the child are being put first I think that’s all that matters. The main thing is to remember that whatever you are doing, make the most of it. Don’t spend your time moaning about the other parent in front of the kids. Instead make your time special for them so they enjoy being with you and you enjoy your time with them, whether it be an hour, a day or a week.
Merry Christmas from our family to all of yours xx