Just in case you find yourself rereading the title of this blog over and over thinking you missed something, I promise you read it correctly the first time. Every divorced/divorcing parent should be thankful for their ex (or soon to be ex) spouse. As a divorce attorney, I realize that such a lofty suggestion is a hard feat to accomplish year round, even for parents who are happily married.
Our lives have become complicated and chaotic. The concepts of “multi-tasking” and “work-life balance” test our will each and every day. We spend our days rushing through life from what seems to be one obligation after the other. After people divorce, another layer of complications are thrown into the mix. The spouse on whom you used to rely upon to have dinner ready at 6:00 p.m. or pick up Johnny from soccer practice is no longer there each day. These now “single parents” are forced to fill, not only the daily multiple roles they already filled during the marriage (dinner maker, dog walker, homework helper, carpool driver, etc.), but now they are required to take on the daily roles of the other spouse as well.
I realize that because of our overly busy lives, it is easy to lose sight of how much your ex really does for the children you share. Therefore, I suggest that on Thanksgiving, a holiday specifically dedicated to “thankfulness” for the many blessings in life, you should also be thankful for your ex. I dare to go as far to say that you should consider sharing this thankfulness with your ex. While you may not be able to the first Thanksgiving you spend apart, you will find that you may muster up the courage as the years pass and your children grow older. The old adage “a little goes a long way”, in my experience, is therapeutic for divorced parents trying to co-parent.
To be clear, I am in no way suggesting that this “thankfulness” requires a grandiose gesture – in fact, just the opposite. Even just a simple “thank you” in a short note or when you are dropping the children off for holiday parenting time with your ex, will work wonders to ease the strain on your relationship. More importantly, these small gestures remind your children that even though their parents are no longer married that does not mean they should not be thankful for their family.
In the end, one simple important fact remains — without your ex, your children as you know them, would not exist. Remind your ex the inverse of this is true as well. You may even find yourself thanking them more than once a year.
Lauren K. Beaver is an attorney in Fox Rothschild LLP’s Family Law Practice Group. Lauren practices in the firm’s Princeton, New Jersey office representing clients on issues relating to divorce, custody, parenting time, support and equitable distribution. Lauren can be reached at (609) 844-3027 or firstname.lastname@example.org.