If you’re a newly separated or divorced parent, you’re likely approaching this Thanksgiving and the holidays that lie ahead with more than the usual amount of anxiety and stress. It’s understandable that you’re not feeling particularly thankful this year. However, you want your children to be able to enjoy the day and remember it fondly in future years rather than look back on it as the horrible Thanksgiving after their parents broke up.
You and your co-parent have a chance to model kindness and maturity this Thanksgiving by putting your differences aside – at least long enough to work out how you will all spend the holiday and perhaps even to spend it together. If you and your co-parent really can’t sit at the same table together, or if perhaps you each have separate plans that involve your family and friends, you’ll still need to work out how the children fit in to each of your holiday celebrations.
This can be a time to create new traditions. If your co-parent has plans for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you may want to do something different with the kids, like go to a restaurant some time over the long weekend or make a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner so that they’re not overly stuffed with starchy, high-fat foods and meat.
If you haven’t finalized your custody and parenting time agreement yet, you should work out a schedule for Thanksgiving week and weekend with your co-parent as soon as possible – whether you’re all spending Thanksgiving Day together or not. Put it in writing and let the kids see it. Depending on how close you and your co-parent live and what work and school schedules allow, you may exchange the children more than once over Thanksgiving week or simply split the time in half. There are a number of other scheduling options as well.
As you finalize your custody agreement, it’s essential to include this and other holidays that are important to the kids and to you. Your family law attorney can provide valuable guidance as you do this.