The Splits: Parents, Kids, & Holidays

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I can't help but think about all of the children of my clients who will only be celebrating with one parent or who will be splitting the holiday between their parents. Last year, I heard a family law mediator ask a question that I keep repeating in my mind: "In fifteen years, do you want your child to have to decide which parent to invite to their wedding?" This question can also apply to holidays and other special occasions: Will your child have to choose who to celebrate their college graduation with? Or which parent to spend Thanksgiving with each year? Will your child have to explain to your grandchildren why they don't get to see you on Christmas? Holidays and special occasions are difficult when families are breaking up or have been separated for a while, and it is difficult for two people whose romantic relationship is over to stop seeing each other only as exes, but instead as co-parents to their children. As difficult as all of this is, there are people who find ways to have cordial relationships for the sake of their children, no matter how difficult it might be. It probably even makes them feel better to find a way to let go of the hurt and negativity towards the ex. Most importantly, however, is that doing this teaches your children that they are loved by their parents, that it is possible to work through conflict and disagreement, and that it is possible for them to have both of their parents in their lives.

While thinking about all of this, I came across the article "Giving Thanks After a Split," by Aisha Harris. The last two lines of the article are particularly striking: "When exes bring good intentions to the table, it’s the perfect occasion to open the door to a healthier relationship. It gives parents, and their kids, more to be thankful for all year round."