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Happy Thanksgiving!

by Nancy Hudgins, Debra Synovec
November 2008

From the Real Divorce Mediation Blog of Nancy Hudgins and Debra Synovec

Holidays can be a stressful time for many families, divorce adds even more complexity because of the changes to routines and family traditions. The most important thing to do is to be civil with your former spouse and keep your children in mind so that they can enjoy the holiday and the turkey….no matter how you feel. Here are some tips!

  • Take care of yourself! Holidays can bring up feelings of sadness, especially if the focus is on the past memories and losses. Instead, try to focus on what you are thankful for…..this might be done by making a list of all things you are grateful for and every time you start feeling sad, read the list and remember the good things in your life.

  • Keep the holiday upbeat! Express your sadness to friends, but keep the children out of the middle…don’t blame or complain to the children.

  • Plan the holiday! Talk to the children and and former spouse so you get their ideas.

  • Focus on the children’s needs! Children oftentimes suffer anxiety because they worry about the parents being alone on the holiday and they are upset about changing family traditions. Remember, your children love you and your former spouse. Ask your children about their feelings; reassure them that both parents love them.

  • Stay flexible! There are many ways to share the holiday time with the other parent. Some parents split the day, children with one parent for breakfast and the other parent for dinner; or have a two day holiday, one parent celebrates on Thursday and one parent on Friday; or share the day and have dinner or desert together; or alternate from year to year.

  • Honor the plan! Whatever you decide with your former spouse, keep the plan intact.

Have a Joyful Thanksgiving!


Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class actions. She has settled and mediated thousands of cases. In addition to civil litigation mediation, she also co-mediates divorces with John Duda, a marriage and family therapist.

Debra Synovec, a Seattle-based mediator and lawyer, has mediated divorces for 20 years. She believes in empowering the parties to reach their own resolution.