Single Parents – Celebrating Thanksgiving Might Be Different


A lot of people encourage divorcing parents to come together for holidays, such as Thanksgiving. People think it is in the best interest of the children. The premise is to create the image of one big, happy family.

Although that might seem to work for the adults, for the most part, it is not a good idea where children are concerned. Psychologist Carl Pickhardt in an article in Psychology Today says, “Parents who put in a joint presence at special family celebrations and holiday events to re-create family closeness for the child only feed the child’s fantasy and delay his adjustment.”

I have witnessed this myself in single-parent and divorcing families. Many times, people who try to create that family closeness makes it harder for the kids. I’ve heard kids brag, “Mom and Dad will both be at Mimi’s for Thanksgiving” as they square their shoulders. Then the next week, they come in dragging their feet, their shoulders slumped as they report on their Thanksgiving. Re-creating family closeness didn’t happen. The kids were sorely disappointed that both parents didn’t come home with them after the meal.

For older tweens and teens, it is a different scenario. Some have shared that they don’t want their parents at the same Thanksgiving table because they worry the parents might start fighting. These kids feel uncomfortable with both parents in the same room.

What is the answer? Ms. Single Parent or Mr. Single Parent you need to concentrate on what you can do to make Thanksgiving Day special for yourself in your single-parent home. Here are a couple of ideas.

A single dad celebrates Thanksgiving

A single dad reports, “The kids will spend the night with me on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The next morning, we are going to get up, and they are going to help me fix a special breakfast. We will just lounge around after breakfast, watching the parades on TV. Then, mid-morning, they will be going with their mother to celebrate with that side of the family. I’ll stay home and entertain myself.”

This single dad wants his kids to be with him, but he also wants them to be free to enjoy their time with their mother and her family. He says he will stay home and pray for his kids to have a happy, joyful day.

A single mom celebrates Thanksgiving

One year, my kids were going to be with their dad on Thanksgiving, which fell on his holiday schedule that year. I had no family close by, so another single-parent friend and I planned a get-together for Thanksgiving Day. Some of our friends had their children, and some were like me and didn’t have their kids that day.

Instead of feeling alone and being lonely on that holiday, I had the privilege of being with like-minded people. We had a great time, and I got to cuddle up with one of my friend’s toddlers (my kids were teenagers then). Each person contributed to the meal in some way. I think the men who came purchased some desserts, but we didn’t care if our food wasn’t homemade. No one was lonely, and everyone had a great time.

Whether you are alone or with others, the main thing is to remember the things for which you are thankful. Some families will give everyone time to say something for which they are thankful. Doing this reminds the children that God is still there and still taking care of them. For some kids who have come to doubt God’s existence because He won’t make their parents stop divorcing, it can remind them that there still is a God and that He cares for them.

If your children are not with you at all the week of Thanksgiving, have a Thankful Thanksgiving Day next time they are with you. Make it special, fun, and celebrate everything you are thankful for with your kids. 


This article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on November 12, 2020.

DC4K blog posts are great to use for training children’s leaders and volunteers and they are free.  Subscribe now.

Want to learn more about how to start a DivorceCare for Kids group for the hurting children in your community?

Did you know DC4K blog articles are on Pinterest? Divorce & Kids, Children’s Pastors, Single Parents, etc. It’s all there.

Follow dc4kLinda on Twitter

Like our DivorceCare for Kids,  Single & Parenting, and DivorceCare Facebook pages where we give helpful parenting tips, you can pass on to other single parents in your circle.

4 thoughts on “Single Parents – Celebrating Thanksgiving Might Be Different

    • Thank you so much, Joseph. God has certainly put me through a lot of experiences. Praying some of the things I went through, others will learn.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.