How Do You Approach Thanksgiving After a Divorce?

If you are like most parents considering a divorce, one of your biggest concerns is likely how you will deal with the holiday season. Will you have custody of your kids for the Thanksgiving? If so, how can you make sure the day will be enjoyable without bringing up painful memories of Thanksgiving dinners past? If you will not have custody on Thanksgiving Day, when can you celebrate the holiday with your children, and what can you do to cope with spending the holidays on your own?

Child Custody During the Holidays

The question of which parent will have custody during Thanksgiving is one that you may be able to address during the divorce process. While, under Ohio law, all custody arrangements must focus on serving the best interests of the children, parents have a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to structuring custody arrangements that work best for everyone's needs and desires. For example, you may be able to agree on alternating years for Thanksgiving and other holidays, or that one former spouse will have the children for certain holidays while the other parent will have them for others.

Establishing New Thanksgiving Traditions

For young children especially, the first Thanksgiving without both parents can be a challenge. Children get used to routines, and spending the holiday with just one parent can be emotionally difficult regardless of whether the divorce just ended or took place earlier in the year. To help children cope with their first post-divorce holidays, experts recommend:

  • Staying Positive - The first post-Thanksgiving divorce can be challenging for parents as well. But, to help children stay positive, it is important for the parents to set a good example. Work on preparing yourself emotionally in advance, and make particular effort to avoid saying anything negative about your former spouse.
  • Establishing New Traditions - If this Thanksgiving is a lot like last year's just without your former spouse, it will have a greater chance of leading to negative emotions. Establishing new traditions by trying new foods, playing new games, and visiting with other family members can help take the focus off of the elephant in the room.
  • Being Flexible - If your children will be having Thanksgiving dinner with their other parent, try to find other ways to celebrate the holiday when you have custody. Do an "early Thanksgiving" if you will see your children prior to Thursday, or consider establishing a custody arrangement where you can have a holiday breakfast before dropping off your children with your former spouse.

Relying on Friends, Family and the Community During the Holiday Season

Regardless of whether you will be spending Thanksgiving with your children, relying on your friends and family - and even your community - can help make for a positive day as well. It is understandable that you may need someone to talk to, and your closest loved ones will almost certainly be more than willing to help you get through this challenging time. If you have always celebrated Thanksgiving at home, consider offering to cook (or at least buy food) for a meal at a friend's or relative's. Giving back can be another memorable way to spend Thanksgiving - either alone or as a family - and soup kitchens and community centers can always use extra helping hands during the holiday season.

Divorce Attorneys in Cleveland, OH

The family law attorneys at Laubacher & Co. provide experienced legal representation for divorcing spouses in Ohio. If you are considering a divorce and have questions about the process or what to expect once your divorce is final, feel free to call 440-462-1882 or send us a message online to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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