Thanksgiving is right around the corner – and if you’re going through a divorce, or if you’re recently divorced and this is your first Thanksgiving day without your spouse (and possibly without your kids), here’s what you can do to get through it.
Thanksgiving for Divorced Parents
For most people, Thanksgiving is a family-centered holiday. That means during or after divorce, you have some coping to do – it’s going to be different this year than it has been in years past. Unfortunately, while only time can really make it easier, there are a few things you can do to cope with the new reality of the holiday season.
Related: Collaborative divorce in California
If you’re like many people, particularly those who are spending their first after-divorce Thanksgiving without a spouse and children, you’ll experience nostalgia – and that’s fine. However, be careful not to put all your focus on the way things were before; now is the time to make new traditions. Consider spending Thanksgiving with your own family or friends or doing some volunteer work. You might think about delivering bags of food and necessities to homeless people downtown, or maybe you’ll offer your services to a soup kitchen or other charity.
Thanksgiving for Divorced Parents: Dealing With Your Ex
Perhaps you and your spouse have a flexible child custody agreement that allows you to share time with the kids on Thanksgiving, or maybe one of you will have them on the “big day” and the other will have them the following day. Sometimes parents agree to swap out holidays, where one parent has the children on even-numbered years and the other has them on odd-numbered years. No matter what your arrangement looks like, you still have to remember that you and your kids’ other parent are still parenting together – and you’ll want to avoid bad-mouthing your ex or talking about whether you agree with the arrangement in front of your children.
Your children might be upset about your divorce, and the holidays can make those feelings more intense. In some cases, kids aren’t happy about having to spend Thanksgiving with one parent while leaving the other behind – they may feel like you’ll be all alone. You should acknowledge your kids’ feelings; don’t minimize them. The key here is making your children feel like you understand where they’re coming from… but without getting caught in the trap of bad-mouthing your custody arrangement or their other parent.
Thanksgiving for Divorced Parents: Creating New Traditions
Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, which can be tough during or just after a divorce. However, you’re modeling for your children, which means you should still try to find things to be grateful for. Maybe you’re grateful for your close relationships with your children, your supportive relationships with friends and family, or your health. When you highlight genuine gratitude for your kids, you’re showing them positive coping strategies (and you’re giving yourself a reality check).
If you have your children this year – or even if you don’t – now is a great time to start your own traditions. (Check out these ideas!)
Take care of yourself. You’ll likely have other holidays without your children, which means you can start planning ahead for how you’ll spend that time. Maybe you want to relax on your own, binge-watching your favorite shows or a movie series (The Avengers series will take all day!), or perhaps you’d rather spend time with your friends by hosting a “Friendsgiving” dinner in your home.
We know the holidays can be stressful – especially if you’re in the middle of a divorce or you’ve just received your divorce decree. By using these coping tips, though, you can make it a little easier on yourself and your children, and you’ll be better prepared for next year.
Do You Need to Talk to a Stockton Divorce Lawyer?
If you’re ending your marriage and need to talk to a divorce lawyer in Stockton, we can help. Call us at (209) 546-6870 to tell us what’s going on. We’ll evaluate your case and start building a strategy that gets you – and your family – the best possible outcome.