Is there anything worse than not seeing your kids on Father’s Day? Yes, there is, actually. I write this not to minimise any pain you feel about not seeing your kids on Father’s Day but rather to push you to take a different perspective – in the long term, it is just a day.
What is more important is to be able to celebrate with your children irrespective of the day. Here are a few tips to help you all enjoy the day.
The first Father’s Day after a separation or divorce is usually the hardest, especially if you don’t see your children on Father’s Day itself. It can feel like you are being erased from your children’s lives. Of course, that isn’t the case. One day doesn’t maketh a dad!
Plan Father’s Day in advance and prepare to be flexible
If you haven’t already, make arrangements to be with your children. This might require some flexibility and negotiation, switching weekends or arranging an hour or two together.
Kid’s want both parents in their lives. Put your focus on co-parenting to the best of your ability and you won’t go far wrong. A parenting plan is a useful document to help you achieve this.
Aim for high intention and low attachment
Try to focus on making Father’s Day an amazing day for your children, not you. This might seem counterintuitive it’s Father’s Day, after all, but there’s a method in my apparent madness. When we focus on ourselves, we become too emotionally attached, which means if things don’t go our way, and we don’t get to see our children or not when we want, we get upset, bitter, angry and other unhelpful feelings.
I don’t want to get all woo-woo on you, but in my experience, the most pain we feel comes from internalising our experiences.
If we focus on what’s outside of our heads, external factors such as our children, we look for outcomes that benefit them, and if it doesn’t work out, we know we approached the situation with the best of intentions, and we can hold our head up high.
Celebrate Father’s Day any time (or even all the time!)
It might not be possible to see your children on Father’s Day. And this can hurt, especially when we see our friends celebrating Father’s Day on social media. But it’s just a day. Just because you aren’t with your children doesn’t mean you are less of a father. Life throws challenges at us, next time, try and plan ahead so that you can be with your children.
Remember what Father’s Day is. It’s a celebration of your relationship with your children – you don’t need a day to do that – you can do that every day.
Think about what you can do. Facetime, call or message your children, and let them know you are thinking about them.
Staying positive during Father’s Day
It’s perfectly normal for your emotions to run high as you come to terms with your divorce and face your Father’s Day away from your children. Try to put feelings of anger or resentment to one side and instead focus on celebrating your relationship with your children.
Having experienced Father’s Day on my own following separation, I know how sad and lonely this can feel. Not being with your children on Father’s Day can feel like a big deal. But it’s not. It doesn’t really matter what day you celebrate Fathers Day if you focus on creating happy experiences and memories for your children on all of the other days.