Thanksgiving is for gratitude and good food. But it can be hard to get in the holiday mood when celebration creates stress, as it often does in split families.
Sharing the kids can be difficult for divorced and separated parents. And feeling split between parents is tough on kids too. Children observe their parents and pick up on all kinds of behaviors. Send positive messages that will help them manage the stresses of adulthood by handling custody on the holidays cheerfully ... and like a grown-up.
Plan Two Parties: If logistics allow it and the two parents are in relative proximity, consider planning two events so children do not have to choose who to celebrate with. Invite extended family and friends. Make it an event even if your festivities are just before or after the official date.
Split the Date: Celebrate twice in one day. Make your holiday twice as fun, say, with a Thanksgiving brunch followed by a matinee, then a shift switch and another festivity. When former spouses split the holiday in two there is some coordinating to do but it again prevents children or parents from having to choose.
Include Everyone: If both parents cannot be with the children on the same day, make it a point to include the other somehow. Everyone can be part of the holiday, even from far away. Send a package in advance with holiday treats. It need not be pricey, just nice. Make a video. Plan a virtual visit or a phone call and make sure the kids get ample time to talk to the other parent, even if you would prefer never to exchange again.
Get Together?: Maybe you can get it together to get together for a holiday, as happens in some families when the acrimony about divorce has passed. This solution is not for everyone. But you might be surprised to find it's possible to politely pass an afternoon with the parent of your children ... and new spouse.
However you work out the details, one principle should prevail when planning the holidays. Put the children's psychological well-being first.