Divorce and Father’s Day: Being Kind to Kids, Dads, and Moms

dad-and-kids-at-riversideWe have written before about how to help children (and parents!) cope with divorce during the “holiday holidays.”  Although they don’t often trigger all the same complexities related to tradition and loss, Father’s Day is  also hard for families going through (or even on the other side of) a divorce.  In families where a mom and dad have split, we commonly see parenting plans where dad has the kids on Father’s Day and mom has the kids on Mother’s Day.  When that does not happen, the day can be upsetting both for dad and the kids.  In families with two dads, there is an added layer of challenge due to the gendered nature of the holiday.  Many families find themselves adding Mother’s Day/Father’s Day to already long list of holidays that need to be split or traded from year to year.

However much time a Dad has to spend with the kids on Father’s Day — here are some thoughts on how the whole family can help support each other during the day.

Help the Children Express Their Love for Both Parents.  Sit with your children and help them make a card for the other parent, or take them shopping for a gift. Honoring your co-parent’s relationship with the children is the right thing to do and is good for the kids.  Plus, it fosters a better relationship between the two of you.

Creative, Quality Time.  Within the constraints, try to make the time you have with the kids on Father’s Day stand out.  The amount of time isn’t as critical as how you spend it.  Try to deviate from what you tend to do during normal parenting time.  Check out local calendars for events that are a little special and out of the ordinary.  For example, this Father’s Day golf fans might check out the Hartford Women’s Open, or go on a butterfly hunt.  Spend time at the terrific Connecticut Science Center.  (General admission is free for dads all day on Father’s Day.)  While you are in downtown Hartford, take a spin on the Bushnell Park Carousel.

Stepparents and Grandparents.  Generally, following a divorce kids should spend Father’s Day with their biological (or adoptive) father.  Although grandfathers are critically important to kids, quality time with dad on Father’s Day should be the primary focus.  In addition, although many stepparents are wonderful additions to children’s lives, they likely should take a backseat on Father’s Day.  It is critical we remember that, even if they don’t express it, children worry.  If the whole family — moms, grandparents, and stepparents — reassure children that they want them to enjoy time with their father, it will help kids enjoy the Father’s Day plans they do have without worrying about the other special people in their lives.

Connect With Your Own Dad.  While we are on the subject of grandfathers, if you are lucky enough to have your own dad, reach out to him.  This goes for moms and dads alike.  It’s easy to put your own parents on the back burner when you have children — and especially while going through the stress of a divorce.  If you aren’t with the kids on Father’s Day, or aren’t with the kids as much as you’d like on Father’s Day, one way to look at it is an opportunity to honor and reconnect with your own father.

Make Time For Yourself. Moms and dads who aren’t with the kids may use Father’s Day as an opportunity to spend the day taking care of themselves.  Healthy, happy, rested parents are better parents.

Father’s Day can be a difficult time for families dealing with divorce, but when everyone tries to be on the same page, it can be an opportunity to strengthen relationships between all family members — and to have fun.

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Freed Marcroft’s attorneys know that divorce and child custody aren’t just legal processes — they are emotional processes as well.  We guide select clients through the legal aspects of divorce while remaining mindful of their overall wellness. 

To discuss our helping with your situation, contact us today either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.

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Written by Meghan Freed