Holidays can bring out the best in us, but all too often they become a minefield for families going through separation and divorce.
Instead of serving as an opportunity to set aside differences and celebrate common traditions, holidays like Thanksgiving can exacerbate and deepen long-simmering grievances, tempting us to go low. What would it take for you to take the high road for Thanksgiving this year?
Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving after divorce can be difficult to deal with, but with the right mindset, families can navigate through these holidays with ease.
How to Take the High Road for Thanksgiving After Divorce.
Nobody wins on a battlefield. For children caught in the crossfire of custody disputes, holidays can become a nightmare, not a time of joy. Parents owe it to their children to do the right thing. It starts with recognizing the importance of holidays in children’s lives.
There are 365 days in the year – plenty of dates for conflict and contention. Take the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Easter – off the table. Allow at least one day to be free from strife.
When former partners cannot agree on where the children should spend holidays, at least one of them must take the high road. If you have to pick your battles, do so in a way that won’t make your children suffer. Ask yourself: How much are you willing to spend to get your way? What’s the ultimate price that you’ll be paying?
Remember that it won’t be just legal fees you’re paying — although those can be astronomical — it could also be long-term trauma for you and your children. Being right from a legal perspective should not always take precedence over doing the right thing for those you love.
To Take the High Road for Thanksgiving, Make a Precise Parenting Plan!
As a divorce attorney, I’ve always been committed to drafting clear, precise custody agreements. The more clarity between divorcing spouses at the outset, the less likelihood that there will be challenges during the holidays or at other times of year. Spell out who gets the children for each holiday and what the expectations are for each parent. Have a fallback position to cover those times when things don’t go as planned.
Suppose your former spouse gets the children for Thanksgiving. You’ve already made travel plans that can’t be changed, and now your ex is MIA or otherwise not available for child duty. There will be plenty of time to fight over this later. Right now, you need to line up family or friends who can jump into the breach, or you need to forfeit your prized plane ticket.
Your children deserve to have a holiday, no matter what. They have a right to feel safe and loved, not to be caught in the middle of your war with your ex. If your plans can’t be changed, cancel them; your children will thank you.
If you’re just starting the divorce process — or even if you’re far down the road in your divorce — take the time right now to map out the holiday custody plan. Get it in writing, and make sure it’s clear and precise. Then make your back-up and back-up-back-up plans; this will help you to take the high road for Thanksgiving after divorce. It will help you breathe easier and sleep better as you move into this warm, wonderful, nostalgic and very emotional time of the year. Happy Thanksgiving!