Celebrating Father’s Day for Separated Families

Next month we will be celebrating Father’s Day, giving well-deserved recognition to the priceless contributions and sacrifices that fathers make for the best interest and welfare of their children. Dad’s guide, teach and help their children to develop into healthy, functioning, responsible adults.

Celebrating holidays in general can be a challenge for separated or divorced families. We live in a changing world with fewer intact “traditional” families. Father’s Day, for example, can be a challenge when you and your partner separate or divorce, both for practical reasons and emotional ones

Today, the best and healthiest outcome for a child in a divorced or separated situation is for both parents to agree, as best they can, on custody arrangements and co-parenting.

Most children likely want to spend time with their father on that day, but what if your visitation schedule doesn’t line up or if the children already have plans with their mother or other family members on Father’s Day?

Time for Dads

Whether you share custody of your children or have a visitation schedule planned out, working around holidays and special occasions can be challenging.

Special circumstances may require more flexibility. If your kids have two dads, or a dad and a stepfather, try to be flexible and have a conversation well in advance of the holiday with your co-parent and find a solution that works for you both.

Practical and Innovative Ideas

When parents are together, often the mom or other parent helps the kids coordinate things for Father’s Day and other holidays, but what happens if you are a single, separated or divorced dad?

A father may feel strange about celebrating Father’s Day if they no longer live with the mother, and organizing the special occasion yourself might seem a bit awkward or frustrating. However, remember that it may be hard and uncomfortable for your kids as well, and they may need your help with celebrating your day. Especially with younger children, they may be unable to take the initiative of thinking of something special for your day.

Here are some suggestions that might you celebrate Father’s Day:

Set an example for your children and involve them in the way you celebrate your father, even if he is no longer around. Include him in your celebration, or if he has passed away, share fond memories of him with your children.

Reach out to relatives or friends and ask them to help your kids with the task of planning and purchasing something special for you on Father’s Day.

For Father’s Day, it’s generally a nice rule to allow Dad to spend time, if not the day, with his kids. The same should apply for Mother’s Day, so ask to make this commitment, regardless of visitation schedules. Think of it as an even trade.

Whatever you do, don’t put your kids in the middle of it. If they can’t be with you on Father’s Day, don’t make them feel guilty about it.

Create new traditions and memories with a multi-generational Father’s Day – make wonderful memories with great-grandpa, grandpa, dad and sons—even father’s to be.

If you have remarried after your divorce, enlist the help of your new partner to arrange a memorable Father’s Day with your children.

If you cannot be with your children on Father’s Day, focus on happy memories – look at their pictures or videos of when they were little, take out the gifts or cards they made for you or wear the tie or scarf they gave you. Communicate and share pictures of the souvenirs as you rediscover them.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just spend time with them, do something that you and your children enjoy doing together. Go to a local park, take a hike, visit the library, or eat at your favorite restaurant. Eliminate your old expectations and create new rituals for your family to prepare and celebrate your fatherhood.

Remember What’s Important

While you might not have a “traditional” family, you will always be your child’s father. Focus on being the best dad you can. Even if you can’t spend time together specifically on Father’s Day, make the most of the time you do spend together.

The most important thing is to be active and involved in your child’s life. Be sure to listen, provide encouragement and guidance. The day isn’t as important as how you spend the time with your children.

Father’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate your role as a dad and enjoy your relationship with your children. This relationship endures even after a separation or divorce, and Father’s Day is a chance to remind your kids (and yourself) that you will always love each other. But remember, this is a relationship you can celebrate every day!

Father’s Day did not become a permanent national holiday for many years. The first bill was introduced in Congress in 1913, but in spite of encouragement by President Woodrow Wilson, it did not pass.

In 1966, Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.  Finally, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring that Father’s Day be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been remained an official, permanent national holiday ever since.