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To Sam

Do I spend Christmas with mum or with dad?

Dear Sam This year me and my siblings have been given the chance to go to my dad's on Christmas day. This would be the first time since my mum and dad split up. My dad lives with his new girlfriend and her kids they are really nice and I would love to spend Christmas with them. The problem is that my mum would end up spending Christmas on her own. She has told us that she would be really upset if we went there and she might as well have beans on toast for Christmas dinner. do you have any advice on how to tell her that I want to go to my dad's and also is it ok that she is saying this stuff? ​

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It can be hard to know how to begin a difficult conversation - especially if you worry that it's going to upset someone you care about. Your feelings and your thoughts are as important as your mum’s, so you should feel able to speak your mind, even if it might be hard.

When parents are divorced or separated it can make  holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year's Eve stressful as  you might have to choose where you spend them and this decision can put a lot of pressure on you. An important thing to remember is that your parents chose to end their relationship and separate and that even if it's better that they’re apart, this decision has consequences like this one. It isn't your fault that you can't be in two places at once.

There might be a way to compromise with your parents. For example, if you were to go to your dad's for Christmas, then maybe you could spend another holiday with your mum. Normally you might be able to split the holiday time between your parents, but this year the pandemic might make this difficult, and this can be extra stressful  for you.

I think a good way to approach this would be to ask each parent what they think is fair. It's okay to say what you would want, but it's also okay to say how worried you’re about leaving your mum on her own. Being honest about how you feel means that everyone knows where you stand and that you’re trying to do what's best for you. Your parents should want you to be happy and understand that this is a difficult choice for you to make.

This is a difficult conversation to have, but if you avoid it, the problem won’t go away. The sooner you talk about this, the more time your mum has to make other plans if you do decide to be with your dad. If you need help deciding what to say, perhaps you can practice it first with one of our counsellors or by speaking with other people on the message boards to see how they deal with Christmas when parents are separated.

Thanks for writing to me, I hope this has helped.

Take care,


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