This Christmas Give Your Family the Gift of Peace


The amount of pressure we put on Christmas to provide us with a picture perfect family moment is crazy!  It’s as if we expect all of our family relationships to suddenly transform into the stuff that holiday movies are made of. 

Although Christmas can seem magical you’re setting yourself up for disappointment to expect more from family gatherings than reality can deliver.  So this Christmas, why not adjust your expectations?  You’ll be surprised by the peace it can bring. 

Don’t worry about everyone else’s good time – The only person you can control is you.  You are not personally responsible for meeting everyone’s holiday expectations.  So if Grandpa is sitting in the corner with complaints about dinner, let it go.  You may even find the less attention you pay him the less complaining there is.

Figure out what really matters to you – We often feel torn to attend every party and truck the kids all over the countryside visiting everyone in an attempt to keep everyone else happy.  Sit down with your partner or if you’re separated sit down with your kids and figure out what matters to you.  What events and activities will make you and your kids happy?  And if the answer is sitting at home watching Christmas movies, that’s okay. 

Start your own traditions – If you are newly separated or divorced Christmas can feel like a sad time as you grieve the loss of an ideal Christmas season.  To combat that feeling start your own new traditions.  Involve your kids, they probably have lots of great ideas and it will help them in their grief as well.

You don’t have to do it all – Everything doesn’t need to fall on your shoulders.  But you need to speak up and let others know what you would like them to do.  They can’t read your mind. 

Pre-plan your holiday schedule – Whether you are with your partner or not it’s helpful to plan out the Christmas schedule.  Laying it all out on the calendar will help you determine if you have too much scheduled and where scheduling conflicts lie.  Have these conversations with your partner or ex ahead of time so you can work out what will work best for your kids and your sanity.

Gift giving is not a competitive sport –  The joy you feel when your child opens the latest and greatest gift on Christmas morning will be short-lived when the January bills roll in.   Don’t feel pressure to spend more than you can afford in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses.  Trust me, the Joneses probably can’t keep up with their spending habits either.  If you are divorced, have a conversation with your ex about setting a gift budget at each home.  Trying to outdo one another with expensive gifts is all about you and is not in the best interest of your kids.

Holiday time is not therapy time – No family is perfect.  During the holidays conflict you’ve been ignoring can come to a head or seem amplified.  Arguments and negativity are not the memories you want to give your children.  That doesn’t mean ignoring problems.  Acknowledge them and make a plan to address them after the holidays are over.  Perhaps your New Year’s resolution will be to not be dealing with the same conflicts next Christmas.   


What If My Ex-Partner is Completely Irrational and All We Do Is Argue? Can We Still Mediate?


Yes, you can.  You don’t have to be getting along in order to choose mediation for your separation.  In fact, it’s very common that parents who come into mediation are not getting along and are not able to have productive conversations on their own. 

Although you don’t need to be getting along, what a mediator will ask of you is that you are open to coming to the table and having a discussion.  It is the mediator’s role to manage that discussion and all of the emotions that come with it even though you seem to be at an impasse.  Often, couples get stuck on repetitive conversations that rehash past hurts.  The mediator will help you move forward from the fighting and begin to focus on the “what next.”  The mediator will help you to move away from the destructive and hurtful conversations you may have been having into conversations that focus on the future and what is best for your kids.  With the help of the mediator communication often opens up leading to a better understanding of what each other is trying to say. 

Even after mediation, you don’t have to be friends.  But for the sake of your kids, you need to figure out how to get along. 

Ultimately, mediation is helping you to lay the foundation of how you will communicate and best support your kids as you move forward as co-parents.  When you’re a parent you’re in it for the long-haul.  So why not make the journey as enjoyable as possible.

Author - Lori Frank