Tips for Enhancing Christmas
Diane Viola - Relationship & Family Coach
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Diane Viola a Relationship & Family Coach based on the Gold Coast. Diane does some fantastic work with families and children experiencing separation and divorce. Part of the work that she does is Family Constellations - if you haven't heard about this I really encourage you to go and have and find out more information - take time to think and decide if this way of divorcing and separating is the right way for your family.
In her most recent newsletter Diane shared her tips for enhancing Christmas and we wanted to share these with you.
TIPS FOR ENHANCING THE EXPERIENCE OF CHRISTMAS
- PLAN ahead so that you have the support you need. IF you suspect it's going to be a difficult time, organise to spend time afterward with trusted friend/s or family.
- IF possible, organise a time where you bring together the original family unit for a BBQ, picnic or some other outing that allows you to BE PRESENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN and enjoy spending time together again as a family. Putting aside your differences to focus on the children's happiness will no doubt be something you will all look back upon with a sense of pride!
- Have realistic expectations of yourself and others and make room for the feelings that may surface at this time. Show your children it's OK to have feelings and to safely express them rather than keeping them locked inside. This may well prevent all manner of future harm!!!
- Remember you do not have to BUY or EARN your children's love; that's a given even when their behaviour belies it! What you MAY have to demonstrate (and ASK of your extended family) is that you respect their need to develop their own relationship with BOTH their parents and to be shielded from the details of your relationship breakdown. As they grow into adults themselves they will be able to form their own opinions and perhaps also challenge some of the missperceptions they may have formed along the way.
- Maintain your normal 'Rules', 'Agreements' or discipline with your children - overcompensating by being lax with your boundaries or giving them too much material 'stuff' is counter-productive - children need to know that you are willing to do the 'tough stuff' that love requires and that YOU are still the parent even if everything else has changed!
- Christmas and Birthdays are also great times to reinforce that even though you're no longer a couple, you are STILL their parents by giving a gift/s that come from BOTH of you. This can help to avoid competition - and dare I say manipulation - as well as maintain the child's respect for their parents as equals.
- Remember to acknowledge the role of step-parents - sometimes their contribution and the positive things their extended family bring to your lives can be taken for granted.