Both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day present a difficult issue for a couple that has recently divorced. Where children may have previously been used to the other parent being around and assisting in planning, they may be uncertain and confused about what the day now signifies. It is up to you and your ex-partner to ensure, for the children’s sake, that you have an idea of how the day will pan out before it happens.
If the father is still part of the children’s lives, it is vital that they be given the opportunity to see and celebrate them on Father’s Day, regardless of any issues or bitterness that arose during the divorce process. While in theory a day for the father, in practice, it is equally about the children, and you should ensure that their wishes are supported and respected. This may involve moving around the days that the father is due to see the children. Showing them that you still have mutual respect for each other’s roles in their lives will make the process easier on them.
Starting a dialogue with your ex-partner early can help you avoid a stressful and emotionally draining rush just before the day. Early negotiation of the times for picking up and dropping off the children, if necessary, will allow them and the father to plan their day together without having to rely on vague timings or worrying about not being able to do everything they want to. The children will appreciate being given time with their father on such an important day, particularly when talking with their friends after the fact.
While your children may want their mother to be a part of the day, one method of deflecting this is to help them come up with new traditions. This could involve transitioning from their mum helping them make their dad breakfast in bed, to helping them find somewhere to go for brunch with him. Though it may be difficult to stomach, helping the children pick out a card and gifts can help them with the transition into the new relationship dynamic with their parents. It is also important that they are encouraged to create special moments and memories with their father that can be more lasting than a simple card.
While these days may be difficult, the most important factor is your children’s wellbeing and best interests. The negotiations may be tough, but remember that being fair to your ex-partner will make it more likely that they do the same for you in situations where you would like to spend more time with your children. An amicable relationship between you and your ex will not just help the kids, it will also make your life easier in the long term.
Carol Sullivan, Divorce Negotiator
This article was published in The Sun