A Guide for Divorced Dads and Father’s Day

By: Deanna Conklin-Danao, Psy.D.
Last Update: June 19, 2017

Tips for Divorced Dads and Father's Day 

Father’s Day celebrates the relationship between dads and their kids, and honors the things that fathers do for their families. While divorce doesn’t change why we celebrate Father’s Day, it may change how you celebrate it. Here are some tips for divorced dads and father's day that can help in creating an enjoyable experience post-divorce

Create a Plan for Father's Day

Don’t wait until the morning of Father’s Day to come up with a plan for the day. In many families, mom creates the plans for Father’s Day. If that was the case in your family, you need to take over this task. Think about what you and your kids like to do and make a plan around that. Find an activity that will engage your kids. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it just needs to be something you like to do together. Every family is different, but the list is endless: making a craft, seeing a movie, going on a bike ride, playing a board game, going on a hike or making a meal are just some of the things you can consider.

Create New Traditions for Divorced Dads and Father's Day

Coming out of a divorce, you have the opportunity to evaluate family traditions. If there are traditions you and your kids enjoy, keep them going! However, if you would like to start a new tradition that creates a deeper connection with your kids, this is the time to do it. What would be meaningful to your relationship with your kids? Like the list mentioned above, this will be unique to you and your relationship with your kids. Do you bond best when you are doing an activity? Out in nature? With extended family?

What to Do When It's Complicated

Conflict with a co-parent is always difficult and the holidays can highlight problems in a particularly painful way. The important thing to remember is to keep your kids from feeling as though they are in the middle of the conflict. Yelling at your co-parent about being late at drop-off or because they ruined your day will create tension and undermine your goal of an enjoyable weekend with your kids.

At every stage, the things that interest your kids will change. Maybe you and your kids have gone to the park every year, but this year they don’t seem to be having fun. It’s hard not to take it personally, but try to look at it from their perspective and take it as an opportunity to explore new options. Try to sound curious (not hurt), and ask, “Looks like this is a bust. What might be more fun?” You can always switch gears or plan something different for the future.

Most parenting plans create a structure for Father’s Day that overrides the regular parenting schedule, so you will likely have the day with your children. However, there may be an underlying issue of jealousy or sadness that your kids have another father-figure in their lives. It isn’t a zero sum game: having another positive male in their lives doesn’t take away from your relationship with your kids. The more people who love your children, the better off they will be.

For divorced dads and Father’s Day, it's still meant to be a celebration of the bond you have with your kids. That bond is built over a lifetime, not just one Sunday in June. So whatever happens on the day itself, remember that you are their father every day of the year and that is something to celebrate!


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