For a number of years, Father’s Day was a more challenging time for me than any other time of year. My ex informed me that she wanted a divorce on Father’s Day 16 years ago. My kids were 5 and 10 at the time. To say it was tough for all of us to deal with would be an understatement. But over time, and with support from a number of people – especially my second wife – I’ve experienced many things that can make Father’s Day an enjoyable, peaceful experience. I’m hopeful that some of my tips will help struggling dads this Father’s Day.
Tip #1: Focus on your children. Though it’s called “Father’s Day” and you may be the one getting a gift (yes, it will be a tie), the real gift is the one you can give to your kids by making it easy and stress-free for all of you. Depending on their age, they may be struggling with “adult-sized” emotions like guilt and shame. Don’t add to their stress through your negative attitude.
Tip #2: Plan well in advance and be flexible. Don’t assume that because it is Father’s Day, you will have the children. Talk to your ex-spouse as soon as possible to clear a schedule that works for everyone (as best as possible). You may have to celebrate Father’s Day earlier or later than what the calendar says. If this is the case, then be flexible and don’t make this change a “big deal” for anyone. Treat it as a normal, sensible adjustment.
Tip #3: Be mindful of extended families. If your ex-spouse has re-married, you may not get “preferable Father’s Day time” compared to your children’s step-father. As unfair as this may seem, this isn’t the time or the place to tackle the issue — because the biggest losers will be the children who get caught in the middle. If required by the final divorce decree or just because it’s the better part of wisdom, have an “alternative Father’s Day” with your children. Conversely, if you are a step-father and have the opportunity to spend Father’s Day with your step children, include them in your planning.
Tip #4: Enjoy the day! If you’re spending the day with your children, do your best to make it a great day. However, even if you can’t spend the day with your children, try and have some fun anyway. Engage yourself in activities or spend time with people you love. Don’t sit at home and relive unpleasant memories, or rehash unpleasant conversations, about your divorce.
Tip #5: Avoid “one-upsmanship.” You may want to dazzle your children by giving them a wonderful, luxury Father’s Day experience. That’s fine – as long as your intentions and motives are not to put down the children’s mother or their step-father. Father’s Day is not an opportunity for you to score some revenge points. Be a role model.
Tip #6: Consider counseling. Father’s Day, and all of the marketing hoopla that surrounds it, can trigger an emotional storm within you. This can create pain, stress and depression. Rather than trying to deal with these challenging emotional issues yourself, consider reaching out to a qualified counselor who can help you deal with these feelings in an honest, safe and productive manner.
For father’s looking for more advice, www.DivorceMagazine.com provides an extensive lbrary of practical and easy-to-read articles on a variety of divorce issues. The website also lists local counselors and other allied support professionals who can help fathers (and others) deal with the emotional and psychological challenges triggered by Father’s Day, and other holidays.
Dan Couvrette is a marketing expert, public speaker, magazine publisher, and artist. He is the CEO of and Divorce Marketing Group, a Toronto-based marketing agency dedicated to helping divorce professionals (such as lawyers, financial advisors and mediators) across North America market their services; and the CEO & Publisher of Divorce Magazine and www.DivorceMagazine.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. He can be reached at (888) 217-9538 ex. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.