Thanksgiving is a holiday based on people coming together to give thanks. If you are a divorced dad, this aspect of the holiday can get immensely complicated and stressful – but it does not have to be.
The nuclear family is no longer the majority. Instead, the American family is made up of half siblings and step-moms, in-laws and cousins. Forty percent of children now grow up in fatherless homes. The shift in family structure creates a change in the holiday arrangement: we are no longer a culture that expects one-house-one-meal Thanksgivings.
There are bound to be scheduling conflicts. Your ex-mother-in-law’s dinner might overlap with your plans, but that doesn’t mean there is no solution. Bearing that in mind, here are strategies to make certain your family-centered Thanksgiving goes smoothly for you and your children.
Start New Traditions: Start a new tradition by hosting brunch in the morning or a “leftovers only” meal at your house on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. Divorce and separation often reshape holiday traditions – don’t be afraid to create a new one to build on for years to come.
Stay at Home Base: Staying in one location, when possible, can alleviate a lot of stress. Invite early and give guests the chance to stop by throughout the day. This may be the best option with younger children who need naps or child-friendly spaces to play. Chicago Family Law Attorney Maureen A. Gorman stated, “This open house format leaves a lot of flexibility for your friends and family”.
Holidays that encourage the collection of family members in one locale does not need to be as painful as it sounds. I have compiled critical research on the negative effects of father absence on children. It is crucial to children that their fathers participate in this important holiday with them.
The structure of the family unit is ever changing, but the important role of a father always remains the same. Let your children know you are thankful for the time you have with them this Thanksgiving. They need you.