Father’s Day, or any commemorative day for that matter, can feel especially tricky when you’re in the process of separating or divorcing. Some simple ideas, and ‘tricks of the separated parents trade’, however, can help smooth the way and help you all enjoy the day.
Use a Parenting Plan to agree arrangements for special days. Many parents now choose to make a parenting plan when they separate or divorce which details how they will co-parent their children. A parenting plan typically includes the arrangements for special days such as Father’s Day or birthdays or Christmas. A lot of stress is saved when everyone knows what’s happening ahead of time and what’s expected.
Plan the day ahead of time. If you don’t have a parenting plan, try and give yourselves plenty of time to make arrangements so that if possible, the children can spend time with their dad. This may mean extra flexibility on both your parts. You may need to swap a weekend, a day or a few hours. If you have scheduled your weekends for the coming months ahead – try to compensate creatively rather than disrupt the on-going schedule as this can cause bad feeling and be a barrier to your co-parent being flexible.
Father’s Day can be celebrated next Wednesday after school. It may not be possible to see the kids on Sunday. Try to stay focused on what’s important – the celebration of your relationship with your kids. Whilst it may not feel fair, or be fair, turning the day into a battle ground won’t feel like much of a celebration of love. If it doesn’t go to plan this year – think about what changes need to be implemented within your co-parenting relationship for next year and other important days.
Make what is possible great. If it’s not possible for the children to see their dad on Father’s Day think about what can be achieved instead. Can the children send cards or a small gift? Can they skype/call or text their dad to let him know they’re thinking about him? Depending on the age and nature of your kids, homemade cards can be a great idea. I love this Huff Post link with some really simple, effective ideas. Father’s Day Cards: Seven Homemade Cards Your Kids Can Make Their Dads
Be the co-parent not the ex. Most kids, especially older ones, need more than a bit of nudging to get themselves into gear. Remind them in good time to get a card or small gift, to phone or text or visit – ensure there is an expectation from you that they will make a fuss of their Dad. Supporting their relationship with their dad is one of the key loving acts of being a successful child-rearer and co-parent!
Whichever parent you are, if you don’t have the kids with you on Father’s Day take the opportunity to do something nice for you. Don’t work, do chores or waste the day – celebration days are an opportunity to enjoy and reward yourself…chances are if this is your first Father’s Day as separated parents you’ll deserve some fun.