How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Divorced Parent

Getting divorced.  For some it is an amazing time of their life; a liberating and uplifting experience that some people in your life may agree was long overdue.  For others, it is nothing like that. It is the end of something they thought would be forever.  As such, the holidays can be a stressful and lonely time for those going through a divorce.

For those who are now about to find themselves living through their first Thanksgiving as a divorced parent, you are not alone.  While this can be a sad time of the year, it can also still bring joy. It’s all about how you look at it and prepare for it. Our dedicated team has put together some tips to surviving Thanksgiving as a divorced parent.

  1. Have a Solid Parenting Schedule for the Holidays.

Being divorced with children is still a partnership. Having a set schedule through the courts could help ensure both parents are given equal time with the children and that everyone is on the same page. During the holidays, these schedules can be even more important. There are a lot of options that divorcing parents may have when creating a holiday parenting schedule. You can alternate years, split the holiday period in half, or a number of other scenarios depending on what works best for the two of you and your children. If you do not have a holiday schedule yet, our firm can assist you with getting or modifying a plan to ensure you know what to expect for the holiday season.

  1. Surround Yourself with Great Family/Friends.

If this is a Thanksgiving where you may not have your kids, make sure that you spend it with friends and family!  Everyone loves to share the holiday with people who they love and care about.  This is even more important if this is your first Thanksgiving without the kiddos.  Being around people who lift you up could help you enjoy the day and help get you through this time. Plus, if you try to look at the bright side, you can have a glass of holiday wine and a turkey dinner without having to stop every few minutes to cut up your child’s turkey or make sure the boys aren’t killing each other while they’re out tossing around the football. You will actually get a little time to yourself to relax!

  1. Enjoy the Day Alone!

Maybe you do not have family around (or because of COVID, there isn’t a formal get together). No worries at all! There is nothing wrong with ordering take out and just enjoying the time to yourself.  Think about it, no cooking, no cleaning, and no having to deal with uncomfortable family situations. Eat good food, read a book, and end the day doing whatever it is you have always wanted to do instead of cooking for an army. If you want to include others for a brief period of time, you can arrange a Zoom Thanksgiving!

  1. Reach Out to Other Divorced Parents.

Today’s world is filled with support groups for other parents who are going through exactly what you are going through.  Join those groups and talk to people that understand what you’ve gone through as well as what is coming.  Think about asking them to do a Thanksgiving and Enjoy the company of other parents who could make a great support system. It is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that you’re sad if this is the first time spending Thanksgiving day without your kids. Even if you have your kids this year, if it’s just you and them for dinner, it might feel very strange with at least one person missing from the table. When you talk about this with others who are going through the same thing, it can give you ideas on how to deal with that possible feeling of emptiness and how to help your kids through it as well.

  1. Share Thanksgiving If Possible.

Thanksgiving is a day to give be grateful for what you have (and what life has thrown at you). Even if you don’t care for your ex, your ex parented your kids with you, and for that, there must be gratitude. If you have a solid relationship with your ex, consider having a conversation about spending the holiday together for the kids. This is a great way to be sure your children have a chance to spend the day with both parents and remind them that they come before anything else.  This is not possible in every divorce situation. You obviously got divorced for a reason. But for the parents who can rebuild the trust to co-parent effectively, being able to let go of any lingering hurt and anger to be able to show your children that they still have both of you might be great for them.

If you’re a divorced parent, no matter how you are choosing to spend this holiday, remember that your kids love you with all their hearts.  Holidays can be a difficult adjustment for your children. Your attitude will guide your children on how they should deal with these changes. If you are making the best of it with a smile on your face, your kids will pick up on that and, even if they’re still sad in some ways, it will make it easier for them.

If your kids are not scheduled to be with you this Thanksgiving, do not make them feel bad or tell them how much you will miss them. Although not usually said with any ill-will, statements like this make your kids feel like they are the ones hurting you because they’re leaving you. Encourage them to have a great time and that you will get to spend the holiday with them when you get back.

And remember, a day can be as special as you make it. Although Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of the month, there’s nothing that limits you from taking another day and making it “your” Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving is about gratitude and family, so as long as you have those two things, it can be held on any day.

With the winter holidays quickly after Thanksgiving, it is a good idea to have things settled about where the children will be when prior to turkey day.  Call our office today to go over some options to get a schedule set in motion or for a modification. We can help you make the best of your new status during the holidays.  Call O’Connor Family Law today.

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