Divorced Dads: Tips on how to turn Father's Day inside out

Originally published on 6th June 2019 at 1:22 PM
Reading time: 3 mins
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Father's Day is supposed to be a holiday where Dads everywhere get celebrated by their nearest and dearest, where they get to kick back and get catered to, or at least left alone to enjoy one special day without too much pressure.

But that's not easy for divorced Dads. For one thing, it stirs up all sorts of challenging emotions. Residual worry and anxiety about bringing up kids in a divorced family, but also just plain old stresses about how to be a good father. If nothing else, most parents work outside the home, and simply can't spend oodles of time being with their kids, no matter how much they may want to. So Father's Day can be a moody minefield of rumination and self-doubt.

Not to mention, for divorced parents, the classic Father's Day/Mother's Day celebration is just too impractical. There's no time and space, no way for Mum or Dad to kick back and be left alone. There's too much to keep an eye on. Before the divorce, it was usually your ex-partner who would herd the cats, organize for the day or just create respite so Dad can relax. For divorced Dads, this isn't the case anymore unless you have an especially amicable co-parenting relationship with your ex. And this is totally ok. Divorced Mum is not on the hook for this, just like divorced Dad is not on the hook for Mother's Day. We're divorced, so that's exactly as it should be.

But we divorced Dads still can and should make Father's Day into a heartfelt commemoration of fatherhood. And the best way to do that is to turn the holiday inside out. Don't worry about being celebrated. Instead, celebrate.

I mean, it's great to be feted and honoured, but let's be honest: being a father is a pleasure. We don't need to be thanked. We need to give thanks. Yes, fatherhood involves lots of intense pressures, responsibilities, and even grief. But mostly, it's a joy and an honour; something to be treasured. So turn the holiday inside out by making it a day to show how special being a father is. How much delight we get from it. Turn the holiday inside out by being the best father ever, by showing your nearest and dearest how much you appreciate being a Dad, and by demonstrating how to be a great dad.

So yes: For the inside out Father’s Day, the kids get to decide what Dad does…for them. And no silly boundaries: If the kids want Dad to cook, cook. Go shopping, go shopping. Play board games, do it. Even if the kids just want to be left alone and not have dad tagging along like some eager puppy, then fine. Be there for them and give them a ride to their play date or wherever. Just let the kids know: Father's Day is a celebration of fatherhood, of dads giving thanks for the gift. And that being a grateful father means being a great listener and super supportive and loving, no matter what. Even if your child(ren) want nothing to do with Dad or Father's Day.

If this seems a little burdensome, keep in mind that your kids may be parents themselves one day. So show them how it's done.

So, this year, turn Father’s Day inside out and make it into a shared celebration of the very real, joyful experience of fatherhood.

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