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Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.
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When Christmas is a
the season all right.
a social worker who sees many separated parents in dispute about the care of
their children between them, Christmas time is a busy and conflict laden time of
are always up and service is most frequently for help determining the
residential schedule over Christmas. The money that was to go for gift giving is
shared between the lawyers and myself or my colleagues as we see parents in
conflict figure out how and when the childrenís time with them will be divvied
up. Not only are we busy, but so too the court system as parents file what they
believe to be emergency motions seeking the Judge to make a decree of a
most, a judgeís decree or an agreement reached through mediation or
collaborative law or lawyer assisted negotiation will be sufficient to help the
parents manage the time. For others conflict will still erupt on the holiday,
very often Christmas day itself.
will return to my office after a few days away to listen to messages and read
emails with one parents blasting about the other parent, police involvement,
need for contempt orders and abject hatred about the untrustworthy other. Often
I will receive emails from both parents saying essentially the same thing albeit
with some nuances to the details so that all blame is ascribed to the other.
Rarely though do I hear about the impact of these events on the children. That
actually comes much later.
from the frequent behavioral, mental health and academic difficulties these
children surface with along the way, come adulthood I am visited by these then
adult children with their new partner in tow.
come because this now adult child needs help to explain to the new partner why
they donít want to celebrate Christmas or why they donít want to visit any
parents on Christmas.
their traumatic experiences of Christmas in childhood, who could blame them.
Anxiety about Christmas still grips them. From their perspective, Christmas is
dangerous and hence something to be avoided. This, by the way, is not only an
outcome for children of high conflict separated parents, but also seen in intact
families where domestic violence is a factor and in families where parental
alcoholism is a factor or in families where there is significant parental
conflict, and/or abuse or neglect of the children.
isnít the Hallmark memory for many and for them, the Christmas season is a
frightful and in view of the positive experiences of others, even a confusing
time of year.
year, be mindful that your partner, your friend, your colleague, your neighbor,
may not be relying on the same memories as you this season.
someone feels or looks at odds please appreciate that their recollections at
this time of year may be traumatic. Donít push, donít argue. Support and
appreciate we have different childhood experiences that color our view of the
season and our reaction to it. Perhaps offer them a good experience.
kind. Be gentle. Be understanding. Be accepting. Be generous of spirit. Help
build new memories from hence forward.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
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