Father’s Day weekend is upon us, and for many divorced dads out there, the holiday can serve as a harsh reminder of the most painful loss from the divorce: Time with their children.
However, divorce hits kids just as hard, and you must use this special holiday to reinforce the fact that you are always there for them. You may still be feeling hurt and angry, but Father’s Day is not all about you. It is about your kids.
No matter how much time you actually get to spend with your children on Father’s day (whether it be the whole day, a couple hours or even if you don’t get to see your kids in person at all), you need to make the effort to show your kids you love them and are there for them to the fullest extent allowed within the boundaries of court orders.
This means planning something fun, but most importantly meaningful, where you are able to express how much you care.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind when planning your Father’s Day to create fun and lasting memories with your children.
Check any anger and resentment at the door
It is fairly common to harbor a lingering grudge towards your ex for a long time after the divorce, and it can be even more or an issue if the divorce was recent. However, Father’s Day should be about you and your kids — not your ex. Put all your negative feelings away while you are working to make it a special day for your children.
Show gratitude if your ex does you any favors
If you are still able to even somewhat cooperate with your ex and she extends any courtesies like allowing extended visitation for the holiday, remember that down the line. It can be difficult to say “thank you” to your ex after a divorce, but fostering goodwill helps to create a better co-parenting relationship, which is in turn better for your children.
Winging it may be more of your style, but to make the most out of the time you have with your kids on Father’s Day, a little bit of planning can go a long way. Figure out your children’s schedules in advance and plan accordingly, as well as some contingency ideas for situations where something falls through.
Quality time is what really counts
Some fathers may not be able to spend the entire day with their kids, others will be limited to just a few hours and there are still more who will not get to see their kids at all. However, the amount of time you spend isn’t what matters — it’s what you do with it. Make sure whatever you plan has some sort of special significance, particularly if you only get a short visit.
Even if you are unable to see your children in person for (maybe you live too far away, have an ex who isn’t being flexible, etc.), you can still at least share a phone / video call to let your kids know you are thinking about them.
Programs also exist that allow you to sync streaming movies over the Internet and keep a video chat box open so that you can watch something together, even if you live on opposite sides of the country. An example is the free, cloud-based Synaptop Theatre, though plenty of other similar services also exist.
Money doesn’t matter
A side effect of divorce often includes crippling financial hardship. Don’t be ashamed if you cannot go out to a fancy restaurant or afford an all-inclusive trip to a theme park — it’s very common and completely understandable that divorce wreaks havoc on bank accounts. To create a unique event doesn’t take a ton of money, it just takes a little…
Use the fact that Father’s Day is a holiday to do something different than during normal visitation. Plan something fun and memorable instead of simply watching TV together. Even things as simple as going to a park, a local pool, on a hike, fishing or crafting some kind of project together will help avoid the typical routine and make Father’s Day stand out from every other weekend.
Get in touch with your own father
You may be so stressed about how Father’s Day will go with your own children that you put your own father on the back burner. The chances are you won’t have your kids for the whole day, so take a moment after your children have left to reach out to your own father.
There is no denying that Father’s Day can be a difficult time for divorced dads. Having the fact that the contact you have with your children has been severely limited can hurt.
Because of this, you must go the extra mile to ensure your kids know you love them and that you are there for them. Don’t let your resentment, anger or general unhappiness damage the relationship you are still able to have with your kids; use Father’s Day to strengthen it.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”