Christmas is a fantastic time for children. Parents need to pay attention that the fun and awe of Christmas is not ruined for their children and that arguments do not inadvertently cause damage to the kids.

The festive season can be a very stressful time for parties who are separated or going through a divorce. Child contact arrangements may be difficult due to the nature of the relationship between the parents.

It is imperative that separated parents make properly thought out arrangements for child contact over the festive period in advance. This may be difficult if this is the first Christmas apart. However making these arrangements early will help avoid unnecessary arguments and heartache.

The starting point is to be mindful and to accept that the children’s welfare and wellbeing must be priority. There are families who have established arrangements that work very well for them and the children.

It is understandable that both parents will want the children to be with them on Christmas day and this may cause arguments. So how do you overcome the difficulties. The following guidelines may be helpful;

1. Communicate! Leave your differences to one side and only concentrate on the child arrangements for the festive period. You are both parents and you must prioritise your children’s needs.

2. Compromise and do not compete.

3. Do not involve the children in your arguments. Do not make them choose between parents. Your children love you both very much and for this reason do not put them in difficult and damaging situations. Children need both parents.

4. Take into consideration practical solutions such as co-ordinating the Christmas presents, what happens if there is traffic or bad weather if you are to transport the children to the other parent etc.

5. If you cannot communicate effectively go to mediation. Get a solicitor involved. Only under extreme circumstances should you get the courts to intervene.

6. Do the above as soon as possible.

Child arrangements need not be difficult or confrontational. Remember that your children may be already going through a lot of emotional pain and uncertainty…do not add to their distress. Communicate for the sake of your children and see the miracle of Christmas unfold for them.