Thanksgiving is synonymous with family, gratitude and shared meals. Yet, for separated or divorced parents, the holiday can also inspire stresses associated with the complexities of co-parenting. The good news is, with a little effort and communication, co-parents can better ensure a harmonious and memorable Thanksgiving for their children, themselves and extended loved ones alike.
The most important consideration that co-parents will want to take into account is the need to plan ahead. If you co-parent minor children with your ex, avoid last-minute hiccups by discussing plans well in advance. Decide on where the children will celebrate, the time they’ll travel between households and any other specific arrangements. Early planning offers clarity, reduces potential disputes and gives kids (in addition to everyone else) a clear picture of what to expect.
Many parents opt to outline how they’ll handle holidays and special occasions in their parenting plans, while others don’t. If a parenting plan addresses Thanksgiving plans, those terms should govern the situation. If such terms are not in place yet or co-parents have opted to remain flexible, they may need to have a broader discussion of how this holiday will be handled from year to year.
Some families find it beneficial to alternate Thanksgivings, with a child spending the holiday with one parent one year and the other parent the next. Another approach is splitting the day itself – perhaps a Thanksgiving lunch at one parent’s home and dinner at the other’s. You could even opt to celebrate together if your relationship with your co-parent is truly amicable. If your family’s logistics aren’t yet spelled out in a parenting plan, you’ll need to evaluate what feels right for your unique family dynamic.
No matter how you decide to handle the day, get planning now so that last-minute challenges don’t cause challenges for everyone involved.