The Art of Kitchen Table Talk: Series #1

Bringing An Attitude Of Gratitude into Divorce During the Holidays

Thanksgiving just passed and although the holiday is surrounded by turkey and all the fixin’s the essence of bringing family together for a meal really serves as a reminder that giving thanks isn’t just for one holiday. It’s the act of giving thanks and a readiness to show kindness which can be done all year round – even between ex-spouses.  Yes, we said it, it IS possible to be grateful for your ex spouse and allow the holiday spirit to serve as a reminder of what is possible living inside of peace.

So you may be asking why is that so important to “keep the peace” especially this time of year? Because children are often the most affected by divorce and it’s even harder during the holidays as they hold such a special place in a child’s heart. Here’s how you, as co-parents, can bring a bit of gratitude into your holiday planning this year. And it all starts at the kitchen table, just like the turkey!

Prepping for Kitchen Table Talk

What exactly is ‘kitchen table talk?’ Merriam Webster defines it as an informal conversation at (or as if) at a kitchen table. The idea is that it is a relaxed, comfortable setting where you and your spouse can openly share views and ideas, in this case, as to how you will spend the holidays with your children.

To prepare, make sure to plan your talk in advance of the holiday. It’s harder to come to an agreement if one of you has started to formulate plans or already has in their head what the holiday should look like. There may be ( most likely, there will be) some remnants of the past holidays you spent together as a married couple lingering. Try your best to allow those thoughts to be present without wrapping them (if you know what we mean?). 

Next, schedule a convenient time where you can be free of distractions and in a neutral place. It doesn’t literally have to be at a kitchen table – maybe a coffee shop or a mutual friend’s house – but if that works for you, go for it.

Lastly, before you talk, think about what you can realistically handle over the holiday. If it’s too difficult to spend time with your ex without becoming emotional or angry, celebrating separately might be best. If you remain amicable, maybe you could spend the holiday together with the children. Giving this some thought before will get the emotions out of the way and help the conversation to go more smoothly.

Conversation Tips for Holiday Planning after Divorce

This is where those holiday principles of gratitude and kindness really come into play. Because regardless of the holiday you’re planning for, it’s key that you’re in the right mindset for the conversation with these tips:

  • Focus on the Children – Stick to the topic at hand as it’s far too easy to get stuck in the same old arguments otherwise.
  • Be Flexible – Remember, kindness typically begets kindness so if you want your ex to work with you then don’t dig your heels in just because. 
  • Consider New Traditions – If some family traditions are too painful to continue together and one of you doesn’t want to be left out; be open to creating new traditions that work for everyone.
  • Start Slow – This doesn’t just have to be one conversation. If deciding where the day is to be spent is as far as you get before tensions rise, it’s ok to stop there and pick up with the details later.
  • Set a Budget –  Determine what you and your co-parent will each be able to contribute this year to avoid any awkwardness during the holiday and to make sure it’s fair for both of you.

Bonus Holiday Planning Tips

Get the kids involved. Not necessarily during the initial conversation, but if they’re old enough and you’re amicable with your ex, this can help you understand what’s most important to them during the holidays. It also allows you to set expectations which can reduce stress and anxiety for the children and your new family unit as a whole.

Self Care is KEY! Take baths, make lots of tea, buy a furry blanket just to keep you cozy, make cookies for your neighbors and keep some for you too. This is the season of giving, and giving to yourself is the key to the kingdom!

Need some help navigating the holidays? Online mediation services can help with co-parenting challenges all year long, especially during the holidays.

Contact our experienced mediation team today to learn more.

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