Father’s Day is a special time of year for both dads and children—a day when families can come together and make memories, all in honor of the hard work and profound effect that a father has in the lives of his children. Fathers have a unique ability to ensure that a child feels seen and valued, while promoting the growth of their emotional well-being and character development. There is no denying that fathers are a pinnacle aspect of every child’s life—a sound voice of encouragement and direction that can create a lasting sense of confidence in their kids.
While the holiday was created to be a day of recognition for fathers, the truth is that Father’s Day may feel especially hard, or at the very least different, when celebrating it for the first-time post-divorce.
For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of tips to reduce the stress of this upcoming Father’s Day, and to help ensure that the holiday is as smooth and memorable as possible.
Communicate with Your Ex Beforehand
It seems like common sense that your children should and will be with you on Father’s Day, right? While most divorce proceedings will address holiday expectations and parenting time schedules for days such as these, don’t assume that your ex is on the same page as you for Father’s Day plans without first communicating with them.
Talk with your ex before the day-of to confirm that you are both in agreement on what the schedule will look like for Father’s Day weekend. This is especially important if you have plans to take the kids out of state, or would like extra time with them to go visit other family members. While it may be the last thing you want to do post-divorce, remember that this is a transition for everyone, and creating a habit of over-communicating with your ex is an excellent way to reduce tensions or drama that can be created from feeling out of the loop. This consideration should of course be reciprocated by your ex for all holidays year-round. If your ex is giving pushback about the children’s time with you for Father’s Day, consult your Final Judgment on what your parenting time rights are for the weekend. If you feel the agreements were unsatisfactory, there is always the option to modify for the following year.
Help Your Kids Plan Father’s Day
It’s likely that in Father’s Day past, your ex played a large role in planning the day and helping it to feel like a special event. With new marital circumstances, the responsibility of planning now falls on either the children (if they’re old enough), other family members, or you.
Rather than wait and hope that somebody plans something, take initiative and create a plan with your children by asking how they would like to spend the day with you. Give them some options of events that you would genuinely enjoy, and ask for their opinions. If you feel most valued by having down time with the people you love, then plan on having a movie day, or head over to a local park and throw ball and ride bikes. If you love to get outdoors and try something new, suggest going put-putting or bowling with the kids, or maybe head out for a hike. By taking action, especially for the first Father’s Day without both parents present, you can help ensure that it’s a day well spent with your children, while avoiding potential disappointment.
Don’t Introduce a New Partner
Depending on your unique situation, or the amount of time that has passed since the divorce was finalized, it’s possible that you may have a significant other in your life come Father’s Day. While there’s certainly no crime in this, it may be wise to hold off on introducing your children to any new boyfriends or girlfriends for the first Father’s Day post-divorce. While the day is in honor of you, it’s also a day that is largely associated with the family-unit as a whole for most children. It will inevitably feel different than years past, and this change can be challenging for children initially. While they will eventually adjust and learn to appreciate and love the new traditions that you create, be mindful of these sensitivities.
By bringing a significant other around too soon, and especially on a day that reminds them of valued memories, you could elevate a sense of loss and grief for the kids. Allow your first Father’s Day after your divorce to be focused on your individual relationship with the children, and use the day as a reminder that regardless of changing family dynamics, your relationship with them will never falter.
Remember that adjustment periods can be challenging for all participating individuals, parents and children alike. If this Father’s Day will be your first post-divorce, be mindful that it will likely feel different, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a special day comprised of creating memories and spending valuable time with your kids.