Father’s Day for families that have recently split can be a day to celebrate family and the ongoing father-child relationship. It can also be a tough time for kids with two fathers, and for parents who are navigating the changing familial relationships.
1. Know Your Priorities for the Day – Kids, Dads, Moms, Other Family Members
When family’s separate, kids often need to be reassured that some things will stay the same. They will still want to show their love for their father(s), while not hurting their mom. If they usually visited a grandfather or uncle on Fathers’ Day, do your best to work together to insure that happens. If the separation is fairly recent, this may be a great chance to the set the expectations for kids, that both parents still respect and care for one another as well as honoring the kids’ relationships with both parents. If possible – plan the day with your co-parent. Find a way to fit in old traditions like breakfast in bed, morning pancakes or hikes. If dad traditionally played golf in the morning, let him do that. Traditions and following them often communicate security to children.
…if you worked together to plan the day, be sure to tell the kids how grateful you are to the other parent for their help and support.
2. This is a great time for moms and dads to focus on their kids desires and demonstrate their commitment to prioritizing their children’s relationship with their other parent.
Talk with the kids and find out what they’d like to do for their father or fathers. Review the traditions and find those with the most meaning to the kids and the dad. Support what they want to do. Show them that you want their relationship with their other parent to be a good one. If they have two fathers, make sure each father gets equal time and attention. Fathers be kind to your co-parent this day – it may be a hard day for them. If you worked together to plan the day, be sure to tell the kids how grateful you are to the other parent for their help and support. If they spent energy making the day great, consider creating a thank you card for them with the kids. This type of mutual support can calm children’s’ fear and uncertainty over what the separation means and at the same time increase their sense of stability.
3. Help your children to make cards/gifts to give to the fathers in their life.
For older kids, this may be as simple as helping them to select gifts and cards. For younger kids, home made cards, hand made key chains, a grilling apron with all the kids paint hand-prints will be gifts they will enjoy making and carry meaning for Dad(s). Your support in helping them make them and wrap them shows your support of the relationship.
4. Take Care of Yourself
This day can be especially difficult for Moms, or Dads for the part of the day they don’t have the children. Please tend to your feelings in the day leading up to, and on Fathers’ Day. Plan activities for yourself that will bring you joy.
- A movie in the theater or at home
- A get together with other friends and supportive family who don’t have someone to celebrate the day with
- Head out to the beach, the mountains, or even back to the gym – a good work out will help to release endorphins and will lighten your mood
- Play your favorite music and dance your socks off!
Working together to create a day for the kids to enjoy and honor their dad(s), is the best gift to give not only to Dad, but to the kids. When the day is hard, it’s okay to smile and excuse yourself for a few minutes. Try to keep the attention on the dad and the kids. It’s their day.