Separated parents – how to manage special days & celebrations

Mojomums know that special days throughout the year can be tough time for separated families, with parents and children all too often feeling pulled in different directions over celebrations. Relate, the UK’s leading relationship support organisation, has compiled tips for both mums and dads to help make the day special for everyone.

Relate counsellor Christine Northam said: “Mother’s Day, Christmas and school holidays can be a difficult occasion for separated parents. Different members of the family may want to see the kids at various times, and usual routines could be disrupted. But, with the right planning, it’s still possible for everyone to enjoy the day and make it special.

Christine’s top tips for mums:

  • Be honest. If you can, try to be honest with your ex partner about what you’d like to do on the day. If you want to change arrangements so that you have the children when you wouldn’t usually, make sure you talk openly to your ex and give plenty of notice.
  • Remember it’s just one day. This is important, especially if you’ve recently separated. Your children are likely to feel a bit strange as to how to approach the day, so try not to put too much pressure on it.
  • Plan something for yourself. Regardless of whether you have the kids or not, plan a little treat for yourself on or around the day.

Christine’s top tips for dads:

  • Give a little. If you can, try to talk to your ex partner about what she’d like to do. Try to be flexible where you can on who has the children on the special day – a little gesture like swapping your days can go a long way.
  • Help the kids out. Even if your relationship with your ex is difficult, she will always be your kids’ mum, and it can really help children to know that you understand their relationship with both parents is important. Help them write cards or buy presents if possible.
  • Plan something for yourself. It can be tough to imagine the children having a special time with your ex, especially if the break up is recent. Instead of dwelling on that, have something in mind to look forward to yourself.

Parents who are dealing with separation can visit www.relate.org.uk/separation for guidance on managing the practical and emotional realities of separation. The website also offers parents who are worried about their relationships with their teenagers the chance to chat to a Relate counsellor online for free.

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