When you first accepted the reality of your divorce, it may not have dawned on you that Father’s Day after divorce would have a whole new look. With it now fast approaching, you may be wondering how to navigate the holiday with the new arrangement. Let’s go over some tips to help reduce the stress and also make it fun.
This may be the last thing you want to do but start as soon as possible to work out a plan. If this is already your scheduled weekend, it shouldn’t be an issue unless you want to keep them a little later or travel with them to see your dad. Ideally, you parted amicably with your ex and it will not cause a problem, however, there may still be tension, so do your best to remain calm and reach a compromise if necessary. If this does not fall on your scheduled weekend, then it may be more challenging, but even though this is Father’s Day, and technically your day, try not to demand or be aggressive. She knows the kids will want to spend the day with you and should be willing to accommodate. Be flexible and keep an open mind.
Unless they are very young, the children already know what has happened and are making adjustments to the new lifestyle. Previous Father’s Days may have been a whole family affair and this year will be a first for them too. It is a good idea to talk to them and tell them you understand it feels different and even a little sad. It is ok to tell them you feel sad too, but it is never ok to say bad things about their mother. Remember, they are grieving too, because they lost their secure family unit. They do not need to be brought into adult issues. Remind them that no matter what happens, you will always love them, be there and willing to talk about whatever is bothering them.
The goal is to have a great day and make some memories. Ask your children what they would like to do. If possible, plan ahead to determine if any supplies, tickets, or arrangements need to be bought or made. This will also give all of you something to look forward to in the days ahead. If money is tight, find activities that do not cost as much. Go to a park, ride bikes, or plan a picnic. Your children may have differing ideas of fun, so you may need to split the day so everyone can do something they enjoy. Take pictures with them to save on their phones or print. If time allows, you could even buy some inexpensive frames for them to keep the pictures in their room.
Even if you believe enough time has passed and you have moved on, do not bring a date along on your Father’s Day activities; this is not the time or the day. Our children want us to be happy, but asking them to share your love and attention too soon, and especially this day, will cause hurt and jealousy. This day should be all about spending time with just your kids.
Kids love to give presents, and for younger kids, they usually make something at school or church to bring to you. But older kids usually rely on the other parent to pick something out for them to give. Since this may not be the case now, try and enlist the help of another family member; maybe a grandparent, aunt or even a close friend could help them find a gift for you so they do not show up empty-handed and feeling bad.
If the family split has left you too far to be able to spend Father’s Day together, you should still make arrangements to talk to your children. You can FaceTime, use a webcam or Skype to spend time talking and sharing. Don’t wait for them to make the first move, go ahead and schedule a time with their mother and then you make the call. You should sound upbeat and make it as fun and full of love as possible.
Every first holiday is hard after a divorce; in fact, it may continue to be hard for a while. If the mother has full custody of the children and you only have a few days a month, it can be depressing and even make you angry. While those reactions are normal, you must be cautious to keep from expressing these feelings too openly with your ex or the children. You should fight for as much time with them as you can, and when you're with them, always be joyful and encouraging. Their well-being and emotional support is the most important thing. They'll remember the time and effort that you put into seeing them, and one day, it will pay off with their understanding and devotion for what you went through.
Father’s Day after divorce can still be a great day. The goal is to celebrate those beautiful people that you helped bring into this world. You still have a major role in their outlook and attitudes and this day should be a reflection of everything you want them to become. Take the time to make it a memorable day!