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Co-Parenting at Christmas: Splitting Christmas With Your Ex

by | Dec 15, 2023 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

As if the holidays aren’t stressful enough, the last thing you want is to deal with a difficult co-parent!

But, alas, the holiday season is the perfect time for narcissistic exes to pull shenanigans just to make things difficult.

I know that being a single parent at Christmas is tough enough, let alone the added effort of trying to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

Sadly, we can’t make our exes behave or go away, so we have to learn how to circumvent their nonsense.

If you’re worried about co-parenting at Christmas, I feel you, and I have you covered!

Here are some tips that will help you handle Christmas co-parenting like the superstar you are:

1. Plan in Advance

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Effective communication is the backbone of successful co-parenting, and to make sure everything is covered, here are some tips:

  • Clearly Outline Plans: Put everything in writing so that your ex can’t cause last-minute conflicts. Texts or emails can be used to hold them accountable and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Use a Shared Calendar: You can use a shared Google calendar or a parenting app like OurFamilyWizard to make sure everyone is on the same page. This app, in particular, provides a central location where scheduling and communication can happen.
  • Stick to the Plan: Be consistent with your co-parenting Christmas plans and stick to them whenever possible. This will provide a sense of security for your kids and help avoid conflicts during the holidays.

You should start making these plans at least a month before Christmas.

Don’t make them too early since this gives your ex lots of wiggle room to try and mess them up. But don’t make them too late, or else your holidays will collapse into chaos.

2. Be Flexible and Understanding

I know the last thing any of us want to do is be flexible with a narcissist. When you give them an inch, they take a mile!

But it’s important to have a cooperative mindset during the holidays and be open to reasonable requests from your ex.

For example, if they are looking to change their parenting time, offer to switch days. This is reasonable and still gives you control over the situation.

3. Put Your Children First

Christmas is for kids, so it’s important that you keep their best interests at the heart of everything you do to deal with your ex.

Choose your battles and steer clear of unnecessary conflicts. If something needs to be dealt with, keep a record of what’s happening and address it after the holidays.

If you have a family law attorney, bring it to their attention. You can discuss making changes to a court order or establishing new boundaries to prevent issues next Christmas.

4. Plan for Bad Weather

If you live in a colder climate, don’t forget to plan for bad weather! 

Make sure you have a contingency plan if travel is not possible. For example, if you can’t get your child to their other parent Christmas morning because of a storm, plan to have them there for Boxing Day.

Co-parenting during the holidays is all about staying one step ahead of potential conflicts. Having a storm plan can help you avoid all kinds of nonsense from your ex!

5. Don’t Try to Keep Up

Narcissists are competitive, and they always try to find ways to one-up people. You may find that your ex uses Christmas as an excuse to use gift-giving as a powerplay.

It’s sad that they use gifts as a tool for manipulation, but they may buy your child things just to “win” their love and make you look like a bad parent.

They may also try to compete with Christmas traditions so they are more “fun” than you.

It’s gross, but it happens. All you can do is focus on your household and make Christmas a special time for your kiddos.

Ultimately, your child will know who truly loves all the other times of the year!

6. Anticipate Challenges

You know what your ex is like, so you can use your understanding of their behaviors to prepare for potential co-parenting plan conflicts. 

Here are some challenges that may pop up over the holidays:

  • Manipulation: Narcissists may use manipulation tactics to control or undermine your holiday plans. They may purposefully schedule things during your plans. Stick to the plans you agreed upon, and don’t be flexible in these situations.
  • Refusal to Cooperate: Your co-parent may argue with you simply for the sake of not agreeing with you. Or they may refuse to cooperate because it doesn’t align with their interests. Ask yourself if the issue is worth battling over – if not, just let it go.
  • Inconsistent Commitments: A narcissistic co-parent may change plans or not show up, which disrupts the stability of your child’s holiday. Honestly, just roll with it and use the time to make holiday memories with your kiddos. Again, keep track of these inconsistencies and address them after Christmas.

Just make sure you don’t obsess over these potential challenges! Keep them in the back of your mind so you’re prepared should they happen.

7. Maintain Your Personal Boundaries

Narcissists disregard boundaries, and many will use Christmas as a time to pry into your personal life. They may try to come into your home for stupid reasons like, “Oh, the child wanted to show me their tree!”

It may seem innocent but don’t fall for it. It’s a ploy to stick their nose in your business.

Don’t let them in your home to help bring in gifts, don’t answer their questions about your plans with your extended family, and don’t let them pity you into disregarding your boundaries.

8. Don’t Accept Gifts From Your Ex

After a divorce or separation, a narcissist may try to “hoover” you back into a relationship – or they may try to trick you into feeling comfortable and familiar with them again.

They do this so that they can regain the control they had over you before, and at Christmastime, they may try to do this by giving you a gift.

Ideally, you should refuse the gift. Be polite and straightforward about not accepting it.

If you’re afraid this is going to lead to an unnecessary conflict (picking your battles, right?), just take the gift and let them know afterward that you donated it to charity.

If you accept the gift, they will believe you are open to being manipulated again. Best not to put that idea in their head.

9. Consider Mediation

If you’re in a situation where nothing you do leads to cooperative co-parenting at Christmas, then it may be time to involve a third party.

You can use professional mediation to facilitate discussions and provide a structure for figuring out holiday plans.

This approach can help resolve conflicts without having to get a lawyer and go to court. Just make sure you hire a mediator who is familiar with narcissism and manipulation tactics!

However…

10. Get a Court Order

When all else fails, you can always get a court order.

A court order is a legal document that outlines the “rules” of co-parenting – where children will spend the holidays, the days and times, who drives for pick-ups and drop-offs, etc.

In fact, a court order will detail these things for the entire year, but with a mention of Christmas.

Although you may have to follow “rules” you don’t love, a court order will keep your ex accountable. If they break the terms, they get in trouble.

Navigating the Holidays With a Narcissistic Co-Parent

There you go! Even though your narcissistic ex is likely going to try and make a mess of the holidays, there are ways you can keep them from doing so.

Co-parenting at Christmas is just a matter of making clear plans and staying ahead of your ex’s nonsense.

I know it’s exhausting and the last thing you want to think about during the holidays – but it’s the best way to guarantee that your children have an amazing time!

How do you deal with Christmas and co-parenting? Any other tips to share? Drop them in the comments below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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