Father’s Day as a Divorced Dad

As Father’s Day quickly approaches we are reminded of how drastically different this holiday will be for the dads who are separated or divorced. Whether it’s your first Father’s Day after a divorce or it has become old hat, the holiday will surely trigger some feelings. For those dad’s who will be spending their first Father’s Day after the divorce, here are some tips on how to navigate the impending holiday.

Be Open
Refrain from labeling your experience as “bad” and remember that it is just different. We often label an experience that involves change as being negative, when it is actually just a process of transformation. Trusting that your children are resilient, and that you have the control to make their world feel safe and good will help you to make your time with them the best it can be.

Stay present
Divorce tends to reduce one’s ability to concentrate and it is easy to become distracted by all that is going on. When you are with your children this Father’s Day, really be with them (leave your PDAs at home or turn your phone off). Pay attention to what they are saying, how they are playing, and what they are showing you with their behavior. Remember that children often look for Dad’s approval so smile and tell them how proud you are of them. Father’s Day is an opportunity to spend the day with your kids so turn quantity into quality by giving all of yourself to the experience. You deserve this as much as they do.

Communicate
Talk to your kids about their feelings. Your children are sure to have some feelings about Father’s Day and they may not know what to expect or what will happen. Considering their age and developmental stage, talk to your children about how Father’s Day may be different for them this year, and let them know how excited you are to spend time with them on this special day. Give them space to share what is on their mind, and be respectful of any uncertainty or hesitancy they may feel. Share your feelings with them. This is a good time to express your love for them.

Quality Time
Decide how you want to spend the day. Some families are amicable and want to spend the holiday in the same way they did when they were married. This can provide a sense of consistency for young children, but may be awkward for older children. It is also not uncommon for the wife to have planned the whole day for the husband while married, which may not be the case after a divorce. If you are on your own in planning your day with your children, allow yourself to enjoy this opportunity to create something new and different for you and your children. Use your imagination and see this as a chance to create a new ritual that you can turn to in the years going forward. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, quality time is most important.

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