Holidays can bring both joys and stress in the best of times, but the first Thanksgiving after a divorce is far more complicated. Divorce is a life-altering experience, and adapting around the holidays during the first year is key to making it as smooth as possible for the children.
Thanksgiving usually means that for one parent, they will not spend the holiday with their children, possibly for the first time. This can be among the most daunting experiences for a parent.
Worrying about the detrimental effect the breakup of a family holiday tradition may have on children, as well as worrying about your own mental state, are all part of it. However, there are means for being adaptable with the other parent’s schedule and remaining upbeat that will help this first time through the holiday.
Coping Tips for the Parent
Divorce is an upheaval even in an amicable situation, and children of any age are aware of the changes it brings. Financial and emotional stress, along with new schedules and living arrangements, impact everyone.
With child custody agreements, you will need to work with the other parent to arrange a holiday schedule – and ideally one that will allow your children time to adjust. An experienced West Chester divorce lawyer will work with you during the divorce process to develop an equitable custody arrangement that includes holidays.
For example, if children spend the day with the other parent, make alternate plans for a second Thanksgiving dinner on a different date or plan a special activity or day trip. Focusing on the positive, particularly with younger children, as well as making extra activities for the holiday, can ease the transition.
Traditions New and Old
Keep up meaningful traditions that your children have come to look forward to, such as watching an annual holiday movie, making a particular food, playing a family game, and so on, to maintain a level of continuity. For some families, an anticipated tradition includes visiting extended family and friends, which will require a new degree of flexibility this year. Discuss in advance with extended family how they can help adapt to a new schedule and life situation.
Additionally, you can develop new traditions, which you can continue next year.
Practice openness about the new family situation with children who are undergoing anxiety and confusion about what the divorce means for them.
Be Honest with Your Children and Yourself
Simply putting on a brave face and pretending everything is perfect will not fool kids. Talk to professionals and other divorced parents, or read about how others have handled their new family holiday dynamic for ideas.
One of the most critical tips for a divorced parent is to take time to acknowledge your own stress and plan coping strategies. Visit friends or family and make plans for a block of time for you, especially if you will not be doing the traditional day with your children. The more you take care of yourself, the more you will be prepared to be an emotional support for the children in this uncertain time.
West Chester Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Assist in Creating Effective Parenting Plans
The West Chester divorce lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. are experienced family law practitioners who can guide you through the processes of divorce, child custody and parenting plan arrangements. With locations in West Chester and Media, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania including those in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County. Please contact us through our online form or call 610-565-3701 to discuss your case.