After a divorce settlement is final, the work of managing child custody and support arrangements begins. Holidays can still feel strained, even if your divorce settlement spelled the matter out in detail.
Holidays that celebrate parenthood are especially fraught. It might feel like something is missing or diminished. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Consider these top Father’s Day tips for divorced parents.
It’s Not About You
Parent holidays are not actually about parents. They’re about kids. These observances are a chance for your kids to show you how much they love and appreciate you and to celebrate their connection with you, despite your divorce.
Make a big fuss over homemade cards and gifts. Your kids worked hard on them, and their hearts are invested in what they’ve made for you. Regardless of whether your ex was involved, let your child know how much you appreciate their effort.
Communicate Ahead of Time
Perhaps the top Father’s Day tip for divorced parents is communication and planning. If you have an every-other-weekend arrangement and Father’s Day falls on your partner’s weekend, see if you can agree ahead of time to trade weekends so that you can spend Father’s Day with your kids.
If it doesn’t work out, be generous about it. When you’re a Dad, every day is Father’s Day, so reassure your kids that you’ll have a great celebration when it’s your turn for the kids to stay with you.
If You Can’t Be There Physically, Be There Virtually
When it comes to relationships, technology leaves much to be desired. But if it is your only option, make the best of it. Schedule a time to meet online via your preferred app, and plan some online games you can share with your kids. The web is full of sites that provide free games you can share, from trivia to word games to charades.
Try Something New
Accept that you can’t recreate what Father’s Day used to be. Create a new tradition with your kids. Go to a movie, take a hike, visit a zoo, play a board game, or take in a kid-friendly exhibit at a museum. Make a meal together, listen to their kind of music, teach them a new skill, or share a hobby with them.
Money Is Not the Point
Don’t fret if your budget is tight, as it is for most divorced parents. What your kids want is time with you. Maximize your time with your kids in a way that has nothing to do with expensive toys or gadgets.
Whatever you’ve planned, keep it age appropriate. If you’ve got a teenager, factor some eye-rolling into the day. Don’t disrupt care routines for toddlers. They’ll love you no matter what, but it won’t seem that way if they miss a nap.
If your kids are not thrilled with your ideas for the day, don’t sulk—pivot. Find some other way to spend the day that gives them the time with you they want and lets you be the Dad you want to be.