How Do You Handle Thanksgiving After a Divorce?

Thanksgiving Child Custody

How Do You Handle Thanksgiving After a Divorce?

Like most parents considering a divorce, one of the biggest concerns is likely how you as parents of young children will deal with the holiday season. Who will have custody of the children for 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 parenting time/custody during Thanksgiving is one that you may be able to address during the divorce process. Under Georgia law, all custody and parenting time 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 small children especially, the first Thanksgiving without both parents together can be a real 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:

Stay 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.

Establish Newer Traditions – If this Thanksgiving is a lot like last year’s just without your former partner/spouse, it will have a greater chance of leading to tension and negative emotions. Establishing new traditions by trying new foods, playing new games, and visiting with extended family members can help take the focus off of the obvious.

Be 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.

From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!!!