It’s your first Thanksgiving since your separation, and according to your parenting time and holiday agreement, your kids will be spending the day with their other parent. When holiday traditions change, it can lead to anxiety, sadness, stress, and loneliness. Need help coping? Here are some tips to help you get through the day…
Put Your Children First: Avoid, at all costs, arguing or fighting with your ex during this time. Remember, your kids are dealing with the same changes you are over the holiday season, and their emotions are likely just as stirred up. Even if you fight outside of the presence of the children, they will still be able to perceive the tension and anger that both of you are harboring against the other. This is truly harmful to your kids, so for their sake, call a holiday cease fire to any hostilities the the two of you may have.
Keep in Touch: Some parents split special days, with one parent getting the kids on Thanksgiving and the other getting the kids on Christmas, for example. Other parents agree on alternate year swaps for all holidays. And still others, get creative making arrangements for each parent to connect with the kids on the holiday, even if it’s a phone call. If you are not seeing your children at all on Thanksgiving, suggest to their other parent that you be able to Skype with them before or after the Thanksgiving meal. This way, you will be able to see and speak with them on that day, which will be helpful for you and also will remind them that even though they may not be seeing you in person, that you are thinking about them that day. At the very least, suggest that you be able to have a quick phone call with them perhaps before they go to bed that night. [For more ways to split the holidays, see our blog: Why Creating a Holiday Parenting Time Plan Can Be a Good Idea]
Friendsgiving: Surround yourself with other family members and friends that day. It is never a good idea to isolate yourself, especially on a day that is specifically geared towards family and group celebrations. Spend the day with other parents who are not spending Thanksgiving with their kids, because being with like-minded people is always helpful. Share your feelings as you begin to form new traditions for your holidays.
Keep An Open Mind: And, as Mandy Walker states on DivorcedMoms.com, “A key to observing a Holiday without your kids is to keep an open mind. You don’t have to follow the traditional activities for the day. It’s a great opportunity to do something different, visit somewhere you’ve been meaning to explore, put in some volunteer hours or even do a home project. It could also mean working a Holiday shift so your coworkers can with be their families.”
Allow for Transitions: Dr. Eric Farber, Ph.D., in his article found on The Huffington Post, indicates, “Transitions involve multiple stages- preparation and anticipation, the actual physical and psychological change, and the post transition adjustment.” Not only do your children have to go through these stages, but also so do parents. Dr. Farber continues, “Any holiday agreement that allows the child to have a meaningful, consistent and real relationship with both parents, absent of significant conflict between the parents, will work for your child.”
If you need further information or advice regarding your holiday parenting plan or any other area of family law, please contact us to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate family law attorneys.