The holiday season is supposed to be a time of togetherness and joy. In particular, children are able to experience the wonderment of the Christmas celebrations in a way that is very unique. However, since family members may not always get along, holiday family gatherings can bring out conflict, stress and even more tension.
When splitting the responsibility of parenting it is important to minimise conflict. Here’s some well-intended advice on getting through this holiday season if you share parenting responsibility. are contemplating attending a potentially difficult holiday gathering, read on.
- Put the Children first: There are different conflict stages, ranging from mild disagreements to heated arguments, but the primary motivation should always be for the children. If the conflict at hand is at its mildest level, you will want to keep an open mind and actively engage the other party while paying attention to what they are saying. At moderate and severe levels, you may want to use arbitrators to save you from this unhealthy situation and avoid any contact that may invoke a dispute.
- Participate in fun activities: Instead of attacking or getting into arguments with the other part, gently invite them to see things from your point of view while exploring the basis of their own belief.
- Arrive at mutual outcomes: There is nothing inappropriate about agreeing to disagree. Taking a central position will allow you to enjoy the non-adversarial aspects of your relationship.
- Be open minded with the schedule: Rather than sweating the small stuff, try and be assistive with arrangements and routines while reminding yourself that you only need to put up with this ‘crazy’ period for a few days per year.
- Make the first move towards showing strength: Express your willingness to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Show kindness and composure and instil a positive attitude in yourself.
- Try to relax: If you can, take a load off – catch up on sleep – read a good book – or simply unwind and spend time doing something you love, with someone you love.
At the tail end of one year, and the lead up to the next, it’s important to learn how to cope with the conflict and stress that can arise within families in order to successfully navigate the family holiday season as a shared parent.