Thanksgiving is always a great holiday. Colder weather, great food, a 4-day binge on football from the high school to the pro level, and of course family and friends. This Thanksgiving was exactly that and more.
We have a tradition in our family. We get out and MOVE Thanksgiving morning. This Thanksgiving was no exception. As is out tradition, my two kids and I went to the Turkey Trot in Frisco Texas. Mom has some knee problems, so she heads to the gym and does some cooking while we are gone. I do some cooking as well, but I do mine after the 5k trot. My kids and I simply don’t miss the Trot.
We got back and I did my cooking. Mom and I set the table and we ate a nice late lunch, giving thanks for our good fortune to be together. After a great lunch, we cleared the table and got ready for Dallas Cowboy football. Then, we all sat down to watch the the Pokes thrash the hated Redskins
Mom wandered off to the kitchen for a bit. Soon there was a shout from the kitchen: “Kurt, what did you DO in here?” I looked at my daughter and she rolled her eyes “You are in trouble again, Dad.” I replied, “Just like it used to be.”
As in just like it used to be when her Mom and I were married.
Thanksgiving IS a great holiday…for most people.
For children of divorce, it is not always the best of times. Trust me, I know. I am a child of divorce
Despite what you might hear from so called experts, from judges and therapists and lawyers and whoever else makes their living in the family courts, children are not at all happy about spending any holiday with one parent to the exclusion of the other. They do not like being “ordered” to be with one parent or having to choose one over the other. They want what all children want: to be with their family – their WHOLE family – during the holidays, just like other families. No, the “experts” are wrong. Children are not OK with it.
There are exceptions of course. Some parents have earned a child’s desire to be elsewhere on a holiday. Or, one parent has successfully alienated the other from a child life. Those are exceptions, outliers. And if somehow divorced parents get together on a holiday, kids generally spend that time worried that there could be all-out war between their parents at any moment.
And I know what that is like.
When I went through my divorce as a parent, I chose to do whatever I could to avoid the experience I had when my parents divorced. While ‘Ive made more than my share of mistakes, I was committed to doing some things better than my parents. I had a 3 step plan.
- Commit to putting my kids first in my divorce – and actually behaving in a way consistent with that commitment. So, I used a divorce coach and a mental health professional to do that.
- Choose the collaborative divorce process. We chose two lawyers who were NOT committed to the collaborative process for that purpose. The process was far more difficult and costly than it needed to be because of that.
- Get over my anger and resentment. I did that through my faith and a men’s ministry which helped hold me accountable to putting my children first in the process.
While my way my not be the only way someone can make a mess in their ex-spouse’s kitchen on a major holiday and still get invited back again, I at least know ONE way.
The great thing is my kids don’t know there is any other way. I’d be honored to help you find yours.
Happy holidays to you and yours!
For more information about divorce, relationships and sound decision-making, check out my book Divorce:Taking the High Road here at Amazon or my website at www.divorcedifferently.org or on Facebook at divorcedifferently.
Kurt Chacon is a lawyer and divorce coach in north Dallas practicing collaborative law. He is a member of the Collaborative Divorce Denton County, Collaborative Divorce Texas, and is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach.