Thanksgiving is a time we typically associate with family- big family dinners, time spent together, shopping with and for loved ones, and of course, giving thanks for all we have. But how do you find things to be thankful for after a separation and/or divorce. Your family dynamics have changed, maybe you’re splitting holidays with the kids, and perhaps you don’t have other family close by to fill that void. This can make the holidays feel very lonely for some.
These feelings during the holidays can put you on edge, maybe in a bad mood, and more likely to have negative feelings toward your ex. Tension may rise, and this can cause fights and issues to arise that may not otherwise be present. It’s important to try to avoid letting this happen, especially if there are kids involved. So, let’s talk about some things that you get to be thankful for now, post-separation/divorce.
- Alone time. This may be one of the things that has you feeling down around the holidays. Maybe you’re thinking that you have too much alone time, and you want to have people there to share that time with. But, you can use that alone time to do some things for yourself, and/or things for your kids. You may choose to spend some of that alone time just relaxing, having a movie night while sitting in front of the fireplace. Or you may choose to take in a play or concert that you want to see without having to worry about whether or not anyone else wants to see it. If you have kids, think about how much easier Santa shopping will be while they aren’t with you. You can get things ready while they are with the other parent, and have everything set up perfectly for when the kids return. Instead of feeling bitter about your alone time, embrace it, and be thankful for all that you get to do now that you have it.
- A new relationship with you children. Now that you are a single parent, your relationship with your children will change. It may be hard at times, but now that all your time with them is one on one (or two, or three, etc. – depending on how many kids you have) there will be a different connection between you. Be thankful for this new relationship and make the most of the time you have with them to build that relationship into something special for you and your kid(s)
- New friendships. Now that you are not part of a “couple,” you will most likely find others who have gone through similar things. These people may become some of your best friends because they also have “alone time” they are looking to fill with new relationships. Spending time building new relationships can help to fill some of the loneliness you may feel by those changed family dynamics. It will also help you to form a support network for when you do have a bad day and need someone to help you through some of the difficulties you may have following a separation/divorce. Be thankful for your new friends and remember that some of your best friends may be people you would have never met if not for your separation/divorce.
Separation and divorce is always difficult, but it can be even more so during the holidays, especially if the separation was recent. But there are always things to be thankful for – it may just require us shifting our perspective a little. So, this Thanksgiving, hug your kids a little tighter, spend your alone time happier, and plan some time with your new friends to remind each other what each of you have to be thankful for this holiday season!