During the holiday season, you may come across additional challenges as a father who has gone through the divorce experience. You may find that you are not able to spend as much time with your children as you would like. You may not get any time at all with them, which can be a debilitating reality for someone who just wants to be an active and engaged father in the lives of their children.
You can contact your family law attorney, in order to modify your divorce decree and arrange for additional parenting time, but that may not change your holiday schedule. You still may not be able to spend the holidays with your children, but rather on your own special day.
This does not have to be a depressing event. Regardless of the day you are spending the holiday with your children, you can still give them the special experience that they desire and be the father that you want to be.
On December 1, 2018, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” performed a sketch, entitled “Dad Christmas,” where they depicted cast member Mikey Day as a single father who receives his children, played by host Claire Foy and cast member Pete Davidson, to celebrate Christmas on December 26. This date is referred to as Dad Christmas, originally stated by cast member and sketch facilitator Aidy Bryant.
This sketch depicts several stereotypes regarding fathers and their behavior after their divorces are finalized, including smoking cigarettes indoors, an unplanned sleeping arrangement for the children, and the introduction of a new woman in their father’s life (played by cast member Kate McKinnon), among others.
In attempting to create a dialogue about the effects of divorce on a family, Saturday Night Live takes its aim at fathers who move away and forge a new life for themselves, assuming that they do not give their children a second thought.
The truth of the matter is very different.
Given the tone that depicts the mother’s home as a primary residence for the children, it can be reasonably assumed that the father’s parenting time exists on a secondary basis, either based on a court decision or a pre-existing agreement between the parents.
By sending the children to visit their father and encouraging the father-children relationship, the mother (played by cast member Cecily Strong) is assumingly following the parenting plan guidelines.
When the noncustodial parent lives far away from the custodial parent, the custodial guidelines generally can be difficult to implement. Family courts will look to award additional time to the noncustodial parent during summer and holiday breaks, in order to make up for the time lost during the school year.
Communication between co-parents
The sketch also depicts the communication issues that can occur between divorced co-parents. The sketch discusses the preconceived notion that “Dad Christmas involves the best presents, in an effort to purchase the affection of children.”
This preconceived notion is delivered upon when the children both receive new phones from the father without the input of the mother. The mother is seen during this musical montage arguing over the phone, upset that she was not consulted on this issue.
While this is a situation that can occur, it is not one that encourages a healthy co-parenting dynamic. Co-parents need to be on the same page with issues like discipline and significant purchases.
The need for consistency, discipline
While this sketch highlights poor communication through the purchase of the phones, it positively demonstrates the need for rules and consistency between households. The rules in place in the mother’s home also must be the rules at the father’s home.
This is why the end caveat of the sketch, where the facilitator of the sketch tells the children, “When you’re older, he’ll [your dad] let you do drugs here” is so alarming.
No parent should allow the disciplining of their children to get so far out of hand that they would condone the drug use of their children. Whether they are a noncustodial father or a noncustodial mother, their priority always should be the safety, care, and growth of their children, and that is not emphasized through the comedic use of drugs in this sketch.
Through maintaining that level of consistency and care, children can feel more secure in their new situation and begin to view the father’s home as their own. They need to see that the life that their father is building is a life where they fit, where they belong.
Be a parent
In the same vein, you, as a father, need to create a dialogue with your children that fosters the necessary trust that should exist between them and you. They need to know that you will be their champion, but you need to let them know that this home is no different than the one that they share with their mother. They need to know that bad behavior will not be tolerated.
That said, you need to be the adult in the room. You cannot be the father depicted in this sketch, smoking indoors and displaying irresponsibility in your post-divorce lifestyle. Learn from this cautionary tale. You need to be someone that they can depend on in the same way that you were when you were married to their mother.
As of December 4, 2018, the sketch has been removed from YouTube and NBC’s website.
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.