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Confessions of a Divorced Dad: Keep Thanksgiving Competition On The Football Field

Nov 23, 2014 02:37PM ● By Bill Gilman
Holidays can be an extremely stressful time for children whose parents are divorced or are on their way to a divorce.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah , or even Eid Ul Adha, are special times for children. Often, these are the times of the year when they see members of their extended families that aren't part of their daily lives. The memories associated with these holidays are some of their strongest as they grow into adulthood. And they go a long way toward shaping their view of what "family" means.
It goes without saying that divorce complicates things significantly.
First, let's deal with couples still together but planning to split up in the near future. The advice here is basic -- LET IT GO! For one day, just let go of all of the hurt and resentment and pain. This is not a day to argue, bicker, bring up "you know who" or to try to undermine your soon-to-be ex.
If your children's memories of their last Thanksgiving together as a family are negative, they will not easily be forgotten.
Look at it this way, if a big raise at work depended on you being civil for eight hours, you could do it. This is for your children, you can do it.
As for couples already divorced, things are a little more complex. As I've mentioned before, holidays require negotiation and those negotiations should be done during the divorce process.
Thanksgiving is easier than Christmas, as it offers multiple opportunities to spend time with your children. If you are creative, and not competitive, you will be able to make some wonderful Thanksgiving memories with your kids every year!
  • Night before and morning of Thanksgiving -- This is a cool section of time that presents terrific opportunities. The kids can help with your food prep the night before. You could help out at a soup kitchen as a family. Thanksgiving morning you could take the kids to "The Big Game."
  • Thanksgiving Dinner -- I'll be honest, there is nothing so sweet as having your children and your whole family around the table sharing Thanksgiving Dinner. But this should not turn into a competition year-to-year with your ex-spouse. Who has the bigger turkey? Who has the better guest list? Who has the better side dishes? Trust me, your kids are not judging one parent against the other and being hyper-competitive just raises the stress level and saps the joy from your children's holiday.
  • Leftovers and Pumpkin Pie -- Maybe the kids had dinner at your ex's this year. OK, well, you can arrange to have them come to your house later that night for leftovers and pumpkin pie. If you have a fireplace and some marshmallows? All the better!
If you and your ex-spouse can get to a place where you can coordinate schedules with a smile, Thanksgiving can be a joy-filled, peaceful, relaxed holiday experience for your children, one filled with memories to last a lifetime!

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