Pass the Gravy, Not the Attitude: Getting Through Thanksgiving with Grace
We all know the holidays can be tough and beyond stressful for various reasons, but when you are trying to co-parent from two different households, that stress can increase twofold. When you are working with another parent in a different household or maybe in a different city, how can you best work together to achieve harmony during Thanksgiving?
First and foremost, read your Order or Agreement. Most Orders/Agreements will spell out the specifics of each holiday to delineate when the children are with each parent. If there is a question about exchange locations or time, go ahead and contact each other well in advance to figure it out—not the day of or the day before.
If there is any ambiguity in the Order, act in advance by reaching out to your co-parent and discuss it. The easiest way to discuss sensitive topics is to keep it simple, stick to the facts, try to take the emotion out of it, be kind, and keep the children first
Instead of personally attacking the other parent about such a topic, try a simple email like, “Since we don’t have clarity on Thanksgiving this year, I would like to propose splitting the holiday in half with one parent having Thursday and Friday and the other parent having Saturday and Sunday. If that will work for your schedule, which part of the weekend would you prefer?”
The next key ingredient is to be timely. I cannot stress this enough, as this is often something we family law attorneys hear complaints about. We all know the holidays create massive traffic delays and build-ups on the road, so plan ahead. If it normally takes you 30 minutes to get to a location, give yourself an additional 30 minutes. It is okay to arrive early and wait for the other parent to arrive. If there is an unforeseeable delay, be courteous and let the other parent know as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly.
What happens if this isn’t the other parent’s year to have the children for Thanksgiving? Try showing a little grace by allowing your child or children to have a “virtual” Thanksgiving opportunity with their mom or dad by scheduling a FaceTime or Skype session. Plan this time in advance with the other parent, and allow your kids to carry the conversation by giving them some privacy.
Finally, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. Allow your child or children to express their thanks for all of their parents. I think it is safe to say that most parenting coordinators, child specialists, therapists, and counselors will encourage you to allow your child to share their thanks for you and their dad or mom. By doing this, you are putting your child first! Having said that, any and all “divorce” or legal discussions should be off limits.
Tom Bush Law Groups wishes to extend a very happy Thanksgiving to all of you! But remember, pass the gravy, not the attitude.
-Rachel D. Rogers Hamrick, Esquire
Rachel is a family law attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina.
To book an appointment with Rachel or another of our family law attorneys, please call us at 704-347-0110.