The Christmas period is a time for families to come together and enjoy the festivities. This year has been very different due to the pandemic, the Christmas bubbles plan was changed at the last minute by the government. Aside from the extra issues this year, Christmas can be a very difficult time for parents who are not getting on. Often parents will struggle through the Christmas period and decide soon after that they want to separate.
Parents Arguing at Christmas
Pandemic or not, Christmas can be a stressful time of year when arguments and resentments between parents will escalate. You may have to deal with family members or in-laws that you’d rather not speak to or deal with your child melting down when their new toy doesn’t work. There are plenty of surveys out there showing the top reasons for arguments on Christmas day, the Independent stated these top 10 reasons in 2018:
- Deciding what to watch on TV – the chances of everyone wanting to watch the same thing are slim.
- Fighting over the Christmas dinner – someone forgot to put the Brussel sprouts on or burned the turkey.
- Someone having too much to drink – too much alcohol consumed by a parent will mean a disconnect, needless aggression or heighted emotion.
- People constantly on their gadgets / social media – Dad or teens so absorbed in their phones they don’t partake in the family time together.
- Deciding who is doing the washing up – No one wants to do the washing up and mum is fed up of doing everything.
- The mess after the presents have been opened – absolute chaos and there is always one parent who will find the mess stressful until it is tidied away.
- Trying to get new toys/ gadgets to work – either you forgot to buy the batteries, or the game or toy is too complex to play.
- Playing board games – The idyllic idea of playing a family board game quickly diminishes as your youngest has a melt down when they lose, or your spouse keeps leaving the room making everyone wait for their turn to be taken.
- Children moaning about their presents or not getting something they wanted – this is a given in most households sadly.
- Children moaning about being bored – this is a result of tired children who got up too early, ate too much sugar and don’t know what to do with themselves.
Sound familiar? Due to the pandemic, we have heard from many parents who have found Christmas to be the last straw in their relationship. They have endured a hard year and there are too many long-standing tensions that now come to the surface.
Marital Problems Through Covid Lockdown
For many people, they have had to endure a long year where the dynamics of the household may have changed. For example, someone who has been used to going out to work every day may have suddenly had to work from home whilst trying to home school or may have even lost their job.
Families have been housebound for many months which has caused frictions between parents that are difficult to overcome. You may have seen your partner or spouse in a new light being around them all the time.
One mum that I spoke to described how she had never realised how selfish her husband was until this year.
“He didn’t once help with any of the home schooling or any activities to keep the kids entertained. He was working from home but so was I, there was no give and take. I found myself managing the children all day, cooking and cleaning and then trying to catch up on my own work in the evenings. He would then proceed to drink and have loud zoom parties with friends with no regard for me or my needs at all. I have never felt so alone.”
Increase In Alcohol and Drug Misuse
We wrote a post recently on separating parents where drugs and alcohol are involved, and sadly we have seen a huge increase in these cases throughout this year. Job loss, furlough, boredom and stress have caused many people to increase their intake of alcohol and other substances.
Parents Who decide to Separate
Whatever your reasons for separating it is important to keep your children’s best interests as your priority. As much as you may feel a lot of anger towards your spouse and want to inflict hurt onto them, you must set these feelings aside for the sake of your children. We have written many posts covering all aspects of this and how you can best approach the separation and arrangements for the children. Here are some you may find useful:
How can Mediation Help?
If you are finding it hard to talk with your ex about any aspect of the separation, whether it is to do with financial settlements or arrangements for the children – mediation will help you reach a compromise without the need to battle it out in court. The mediation process can be conducted completely online through Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime or Zoom so you can take part from home without having to be in the same room as your ex-partner or spouse.
Here are some examples of the types of issues that can be talked through during mediation:
- Discuss and agree how and when the children spend time with each parent. What pattern of care can be agreed upon.
- Work out living arrangements for the children that take account of their needs and your obligations as parents.
- Ensure that financial support takes realistic account of both parents’ circumstances and the children’s needs.
- Address the division of property and other assets in a way that is fair, and takes an accurate account of both your and the children’s needs and the resources available.
- Lay a foundation for the kind of co-operation and communication in respect of the children’s needs, education, health and welfare that is essential to their future well-being.
Can We Help?
As experienced family mediators we have years of experience helping all types of families with different issues and reasons for conflict. We help separated couples and their children to move forwards positively with compromise and agreement. If you would like help or advice to see if mediation can help you in your situation, please do call us on 0788 903 9393.