Christmas always evokes a flood of feelings for many of us; happiness, togetherness, joy.
But what if it is something that we are dreading?
There are many parents out there who go through Christmas alone.
There are multiple reasons as to why this may be the case:
Work could keep us away.
We may be living with divorce or separation.
At some point in time, our children may choose to spend Christmas away from us.
Maybe it is the first year that they decide to spend it with a partner. Feeling lonely and separated from our children at Christmas is especially hard.
This year is going to be a little different because mum and dad are not together anymore.
The holiday season is relentless. Advertising is everywhere; Mariah is playing at the shops; every television channel and radio station seems to refer to it in one way or another.
So how do we deal with these feelings of sadness, grief and maybe even rejection?
First things first—acknowledge it. Be aware of your feelings and how things may make you react. It does not mean sing it out like a dodgy Christmas carol. It means a little self-talk.
Yes, I know that sharing my kids at Christmas or not having them at all will be very difficult.
Next, how do we communicate this to our children specifically?
We must ensure that we are being developmentally appropriate. We want to utilise this process to connect with them rather than create emotional distance where physical distance is already an obstacle.
This year is going to be a little different because mum and dad are not together anymore. You will be going to spend Christmas Day with your father, which will be lovely for you. You and I will be spending the following day with each other. I have some great things planned too. And always remember, when we are apart, you are always in my thoughts.
We need to remind ourselves it is difficult when we cannot see our children at all. In this case, any way to maintain a connection is encouraged, phone calls, letters, SMS, or emails. If we get the chance to communicate, rather than blame or pass judgement, it is much more important to connect with our children; to find out what has been happening in their lives.
It is about positively maintaining the connection between you and your children. And, on the occasions that you may not be able to share it with them at that moment, sharing with them one day that on 25 December 2021, I was thinking of you, will still hold a special place with them.
By Kimberley Harper, Parentline Manager. If you want to chat, especially over this time, remember the Parentline counsellors are on hand. It is free, non-judgemental, and completely confidential. Reach out by calling 1300 55 1300 or Webchat via parentline.com.au.