Managing Your First Thanksgiving After a Divorce

The first Thanksgiving after a divorce can feel quite different. It brings its own set of challenges and strong emotions. Not being able to spend time with your child, as outlined in the divorce agreement, adds to the complexity. And it’s the first Thanksgiving without your spouse, which can be tough. Plus, there’s the stress of finances and the possibility of nosy family members asking personal questions. For someone fresh out of a divorce, the holiday season might be a time they’d rather just breeze through without much fuss.

It does not have to be this way if you have gone through a divorce. I am not prepared to say that a divorce will always be favorable for you, your family, and most importantly, your child. However, I will say that you and your family can prepare for the events of Thanksgiving. Especially if this is your first Turkey Day as a divorced parent, you should think ahead about how to not only get through your first solo Thanksgiving, but how to make sure it is a memorable one for your child, in a positive way.

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will walk you through some tips on preparing for and successfully managing Thanksgiving as a single, divorced parent. While we understand that your family may have a specific dynamic that sets you apart from most families, we believe the majority of what you read today will apply to you. As long as you approach the holiday with a flexible attitude and patience, we can parent your child and create memories in the upcoming holiday.

There’s something to be grateful for

What’s that, you say? You don’t feel too grateful? After all, you’ve just been through a difficult divorce that cost you your spouse, time with your child, and money from your pocketbook. If anyone has an excuse to feel ungrateful, it should be you.

Wrong. Each of us has things in our life that we can be grateful for. Simply being alive and standing on our feet each morning with the possibilities that life offers is reason enough to be grateful. Spending the day with your child is another reason to be grateful. I can almost promise you that you have friends in your life who have supported you during your divorce. Ditto for family. If you can take solace in these things and show gratitude on this day, that behavior can influence your child to do the same thing.

While not everything in your life is going perfectly now, there will not be a time when you will be able to say that everything is going perfectly, either. Life is about peaks and valleys. Nobody would argue that you may be going through one of the “valley” points in your life, but perk up if for no other reason than you have an opportunity to present a teachable lesson to your child in the form of how to show gratitude.

Keep things the same- as much as you can.

Everything in your life (and I mean everything) may be different on your first Thanksgiving after divorce. You may not be hosting this year’s meal like you did last year. Your spouse is no longer at home with you and your child. Family members may have had to act as witnesses in a messy divorce trial or, at the very least, have had to “pick sides” in the case. The relationship you have with your child may be changing, which has made you feel uncomfortable and uncertain of how to approach this day.

My advice would be to take whatever traditions your family practices typically and to do your best to recreate those this Thanksgiving. Try to keep a routine similar to the one that your child previously enjoyed- even if it means putting forth a little bit more e