Christmas is a notoriously difficult time for families who are no longer living together as a unit.

Sometimes children go from one parent’s house to the other on the day; others take it in turns to spend Christmas day with their children; some celebrate on consecutive days with each parent; and there are some who get together for the day, even with new partners and children born post-the breakup. Whatever the way you decide to handle this situation, there is no doubt that it is complicated, and things can go badly wrong. In the run-up to the festive season, Welldoing asked Leezah Hertzmann for advice. Leezah is a senior couple and individual psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and also head of its Parenting Together programmes which work specifically with divorced, separated and blended families. How should parents who have children but are no longer together behave to make the Christmas period a time of relative peace and joy?

1) Ring-fence current arguments and vendettas

It's important to try not to let disputes that are currently running with your ex-partner or in your blended family spill over into Christmas Day to the days surrounding it. Seal off those topics.

2) Be tactful

Don’t talk about ex or other new blended family  in front of the children. These things can spoil Christmas for them and they are sensitive to them.

3) Don't be judgemental about presents

It's better to allow the other family the freedom to give the child whatever they want. Comparing presents or making judgements about presents - such as that’s too lavish, or not enough money has been spent, or what were they doing buying that when they know, etc – is  not recommended. Avoid any temptation to interpret your child’s present as an attack on you.

4) Respect your chidren's view of Christmas

It’s a special time for children and it features strongly in memories of their childhood. You don’t want their image of this time to be their parents rowing.

5) Include the Grandparents

The parents, siblings and relatives of your ex-partner have independent relationships with your children, who often want and need to be with them if they are gathering for a family occasion. Just because you’re divorced shouldn’t mean that your children are divorced from that other side of their family. If they want to see them, you should help it to happen - or even foster those links, encouraging them to make the family connection.