With Mother’s Day approaching, you, as a divorced dad, have your own feelings to unpack, regarding the holiday. Given how the divorce experience can often create tension between co-parents and how events, actions, and words can sometimes be used negatively when issues regarding child custody are called into question, your feelings are probably justified.
However, it is important to remember the children’s perspectives when deciding the best method of expressing these feelings. Regardless of how you feel about your co-parent, she still is their mother, and for them, that makes her worth celebrating.
Your mother and your children
Think about your mother for a second. You may have had a great relationship with her. You may have spent countless hours with one another, as she helped you with your homework or cooked you dinner. She may have been a provider in the house or someone who drove you to and from school or football practice.
For some, not all, this can be the case with your children. Your children may look to their mother for many of the comforts that you received from yours, and that is no fault of theirs. Child custody decisions force children to rely on the parent that receives a favorable outcome, and that should not be held against the children.
In order to remedy this, it is important to take legal action if you wish to improve your child custody case and increase your parenting time. This means partnering with a family law attorney who understands the plight of men and fathers who may be slighted by the gender stereotypes that can exist in the family court system.
There may be rulings that have existed for years that you wish to revisit, modifying aspects of the child custody agreement and parenting plan, but just because they have existed for years, does not mean they cannot be revisited.
Benefits of shared parenting
Just like the case itself, having an emotionally volatile divorce does not mean that your co-parenting relationship cannot be revisited and repaired. Especially in situations where the child custody agreement and parenting plan are modified, it can be beneficial to have both you and your co-parent on the same page, promoting the health and well-being of your child.
Countless studies have highlighted the benefits of shared parenting, and as a father, you need to put the needs of your children first. This means setting aside all of the history and emotions involved in the breakdown of your marriage and work with your ex-spouse to be the best parents that you can be.
This includes Mother’s Day, a day designed for the appreciation of everything that a mother does in the life of their child. While you may not have such a positive outlook on your co-parent, your children may, and destroying that outlook can be a slippery slope, especially with Father’s Day just a month away.
Respect for the day
You may be forced to ask yourself “Would you want your co-parent to affect how you celebrate Father’s Day?” If the answer to that question is a resounding “No.”, then perhaps it is best to allow your children to have that day to celebrate the role that their mother plays in their lives.
Whether you know for a fact that your co-parent would attempt to mess with Father’s Day, in an effort to undermine your relationship with your children, should you not offer the same level of respect to Mother’s Day as you would hope your co-parent would show for Father’s Day?
Leading by example
By making that effort, you are putting yourself in a better position with your children and with your child custody case. You are showing the court that you can put your feelings and history aside and honor your co-parent’s place in your child’s life.
You are showing your children that regardless of the divorce and the fact that you are no longer with their mother, you still have the ability to take the high road and respect her place in their lives. You actively are teaching them life lessons, in how to deal with someone that you may not like and showing them that the emotions of a complicated situation should not guide the decision-making process.
It may be a little uncomfortable taking these steps in honoring your co-parent’s place in the lives of your children, and Mother’s Day may intensify your discomfort. However, it is not about you. It is about your children, and you have an opportunity to be the bigger person in this situation by helping your children with Mother’s Day. Take them to go get a card, a gift, or flowers. Teach them how to cook Mom’s favorite breakfast.
By helping your children in this area, you are humbling yourself and leading by example. Even if you and your co-parent do not have a civil relationship, you can show them what it means to be a selfless and loving parent.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.