The Separated Family’s 12 Days of Christmas

Survival advice from coach, therapist and counsellor Jackie Walker

A partridge in a pear tree – ‘The Family’
Divorced, separated or together – there are two parents, and children. This constitutes a family. Even when parents have divorced, the family will still be part of the children’s mindset.

Two turtle doves – ‘Two Homes’
There is no hard and fast rule for parents to follow with regard spending Christmas with their children. Very often, parents take it in turn to be with their children on Christmas morning. There are many elaborate and ingenious ways to create the best for everyone.

Three French hens – ‘Presents’
Presents will come from Mum, from Dad, from Santa. Or it might be that there are two Santa’s. Given that he’s not real, it’s not a problem for him to visit both homes. Many parents choose to club together to give their children joint presents.

Four Calling Birds – Contact
Nearly every parent I know wants to speak to their child on Christmas Day if they are unable to be with them. Keeping in touch by telephone, text, email and Skype are four options which can be used liberally. Make sure you know who is calling whom, when and what number to use.

Five Gold Rings – 5 basic rules
Respect – respect the other parent as a human being and a parent with feelings
Understanding – try to use some empathy as to how you would feel in their shoes
Communication – about presents, pick up/drop off times, if there are changes
Innocence – your ex may not be perfect, but they are doing the best they can with what they know
Generosity – of spirit if nothing else, someone has to start, make it you

Six Geese a Laying – Lay some foundations
If this is your first year as separated parents, you might not yet have new traditions in place. Rather than being sad about losing the old ones, start planning some new ones. Invite new friends round, visit different relatives, get some new decorations (or make them). Ask the children to help you cook the meal.

Seven Swans a Swimming – Go with the flow
Swans appear to glide effortlessly over the water, while underneath their feet are paddling madly to move them forward. Remaining calm with your ex will stop you from creating waves. If there is mad paddling going on inside you, learn some relaxation techniques to get rid of the negative feelings.

Eight Maids a Milking – Pay Attention
Are you paying attention to your own cow which needs milking or are you trying to milk a situation for all it’s worth? Focussing on yourself and making sure that you are doing the best you can for you and your children instead of paying attention to what your ex is doing/not doing is much more satisfying.

Nine Ladies Dancing – Turn up the music
It’s not just ladies who like to dance, children love it. Stick on some uplifting music and dance or sing. Go and watch a pantomime. Find a carol service and join in.
Ten Lords a Leaping – Leap of Faith
Sometimes it feels easier to be angry and sad than it is to take control of your feelings, thoughts and life. Take a leap of faith to remember that no matter what you have ‘lost’ you still have plenty for which to be grateful. It’s impossible to grateful and depressed in the same moment.

Eleven Pipers Piping – Icing on the cake
Your happiness is yours alone and is the icing on the cake for most. Start paying attention to when you are happy and do more of it. It may be simple things like receiving cards, cooking dinner, walking in the park, exercising, taking a bath, talking to friends, doing well at work, hugging the kids.

Twelve Drummers Drumming – Repercussions
It should be remembered that every action has a consequence. Step carefully and make sure you are making a wise choice for all concerned. If in doubt, don’t. Learn to work from your heart with your children at the forefront of your mind, and not from a feeling of anger, or spite.

Jackie has a 30% discount for a one hour session by telephone/Skype to be booked and paid before 24th December and taken by the 31st December.

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One Response to The Separated Family’s 12 Days of Christmas

  1. Prolifique says:

    I just found your blog. Your advice and suggestions on getting through the rocky days of celebration, as a separated family are very useful and practical as well as sensitive.
    I know, i’ve been there and am still doing that and would have loved to have this kind of advice while my separated family navigated these stormy waters.

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