A divorce can mean that special family holidays, like Father’s Day, can end up being stressful and full of conflict. Whether during your divorce or after divorce, one should keep in mind some general guidelines and specific tips in trying to create a stress-free, child-focused family holiday.
Here are a few general guidelines to ensure that you can enjoy this very special day:
Remember that your children love both parents. Father’s Day is a wonderful opportunity for moms to show children how supportive they are of their children’s father-child relationship. Even a gesture like purchasing a card from children to dad or encouraging children to craft a card for their father demonstrates support of this very special relationship;
Parenting is forever. Although your former partner may no longer be your husband, they will forever be your children’s father. Encourage and allow your children to enjoy Father’s Day as a time to celebrate with Dad. Father’s day should always be reserved for spending the day with Dad (if possible, even if that day falls on Mom’s scheduled time sharing); and
Keep your children’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, some divorced parents need reminding of this very essential fact. If you have power struggles going on with your ex-spouse, use a divorce coach, parenting coordinator, or other mental health professional to help you work it out so that you can keep your children out of the crossfire. Put yourself in the place of your children and do what would serve them best during this special family holiday.
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The following simple rules also can help prevent chaos and conflict making celebrating Father’s Day meaningful and less stressful for everyone:
- When a child lives within driving distance of their father, then children should spend Father’s Day with their dad. You might consider generously consenting to an overnight (even if it’s not on your visitation/time-sharing schedule) so that children can serve Dad breakfast in bed or enjoy breakfast at a special restaurant with Dad. Or you might extend an hour for the transition to accommodate plans that Dad may have had to celebrate Father’s Day;
- If outside of driving range: If the parents and the children live outside of driving range, it becomes the responsibility of Mom to help their young children remember Father’s Day. Initiate a telephone call, a web-cam connection or help your kids do this on their own. If the kids are older, a bit of gentle nudging may be in order. Connections with both parents are important particularly on the special family holidays; and
- Help your children make or buy a card or a gift for their father. And if you’re having trouble with this task, remind yourself that you are doing this for your children. You are helping them do something that is going to make them feel good about themselves.
- Avoid conflict. Make a mental note to avoid any and all conflict related to Father’s Day. Your children will thank you many times over. Keep them out of the middle. As far as your children are concerned, there is no big deal about spending Father’s Day with Dad or for that matter Mother’s Day with Mom, and your children should think it’s no big deal for their mother and father to feel that way also.
- Allow adequate time. If possible, allow adequate time for your children and the other parent to celebrate Father’s Day. While an hour or two is better than nothing, it doesn’t offer much in the way of consenting to an overnight (even if it’s not on the schedule).
- Reserve the primary celebration of Father’s Day for your child’s immediate, biological Dad. While you may want your children to be considerate and remember grandparents, stepparents or other extended family members on Father’s Day, it should not be in place of or take the place of observing Father’s Day with Dad; and
- And Dads remember, enjoy this special day with your children. Focus on doing things with them instead of hanging out with adults.
While this article is focused on the upcoming Father’s Day celebration, the general principles and suggestions contained here also apply to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and all other celebrated occasions throughout the year. Parents, remember to put aside your feelings for just one moment and focus on your children. They will appreciate your caring and thoughtfulness and remember it in years to come. An added bonus: your ex-spouse may actually reciprocate next year.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.