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Thanksgiving is a holiday based on people coming together to give thanks. This aspect of the holiday can become immensely complicated and stressful if you are a divorced or single dad, but it does not have to be.   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.  Further over half of the children in Chicago are born out of wedlock, which creates a potential challenge to fathers who want to spend time with their children, but are no longer with their child’s mother.   With the changing family dynamic, there are bound to be scheduling conflicts. Your ex-mother-in-law’s dinner might overlap with your plans or your child’s mother may exclude you from her plans, but that doesn’t mean there is no solution. Below are some 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 Friday or Saturday 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. 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.   For more advice on building on your father-child relationship around the holidays, go to www.dadsrights.com or follow Fathers’ Rights Attorney Jeffery Leving on Twitter @fathersmatter.

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