Any holiday or special day can be difficult to manage after a divorce, and Father’s Day is certainly no exception. Some fathers may not be able to spend the day with their kids, which could be the case if you live far away or your ex is scheduled to have the kids that day. But even if you and your kids will be together, your first Father’s Day as a single dad may feel a bit awkward. The following tips could help:
- Talk to your ex-spouse. If it’s her turn to have the kids that day, you might be able to work out a compromise. Maybe she would be willing to switch weekends, or perhaps she’d let the kids celebrate with you for a few hours. Establishing an open line of communication is almost always the best way to approach it.
- Create a virtual get-together. If there’s no way you can arrange to spend the day with your kids, maybe you can use technology to share some time together. A video chat via Skype is a good option. Even a simple phone call will do. The important thing is to talk with your kids to let them know you miss them and care about them.
- Plan a fun day. If you’ll be with your kids on Father’s Day, take the time to plan something everyone will enjoy. Think about the outings or experiences you’ve enjoyed in the past, and let your kids get excited about it all over again. You may want to schedule a special outing like fishing or going to the movies, but you can also do something simple like cooking a meal together or playing video games. Spending time together is what matters most.
- Keep it to just you and the kids. If you have a new significant other, it’s probably best not to include her. While you may be excited to introduce her to your kids, you should probably reserve that for another time. Your children might feel like she’s infringing on their time with you.
- Be the adult. You may be reeling from an ugly divorce, but your kids need to know that you respect their mother. So take the high road and keep any ill feelings to yourself. At the same time, don’t refrain from mentioning her if she comes up in conversation. Kids are happier when they know their parents care about each other – even if they’re divorced.
- Create some new traditions. With or without the kids, you may want to start some new traditions for Father’s Day. Whether it’s a trip to the zoo or a hike in the park, this is a great time to start traditions that you and your kids will enjoy for years to come. And if you’re alone on Father’s Day, you can still create some new traditions, such as getting together with other single dads.
Whether this is your first Father’s day as a divorced parent or you’ve been divorced for years, make it a priority to spend some time with your children. If that’s not possible, find a way to connect with them remotely. You’re still their father, and they are still your children. That will never change.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.