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Father’s Day 101 for Divorced Dads

Father and Son Playing

Let’s face it: Celebrating Father’s Day as a divorced dad is just not the same. In the past, your wife may have helped the kids create hand-made presents while you enjoyed a relaxing day free of “honey-do” lists and being honored and loved by your family. Now the day may bring on feelings of sadness or failure or frustration that you weren’t able to make your marriage work or that your relationship with your kids has changed. Here’s how you can put a positive spin on the day so that it continues to be a meaningful celebration for you and your kids, no matter what the situation is.

If you won’t be able to see your kids on Father’s Day, it’s important that you still reach out to them. Set up a time without interruptions where you can call, Skype or FaceTime with them. Make the day even more special by sending them a handwritten note or card telling them how proud you are to be their father. If you will be able to see them at a different time, plan to celebrate Father’s Day together then.

And even if you aren’t able to see your kids on this special day, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Schedule a game of golf with your buddies, go for a mountain bike ride or hike or grab dinner at your favorite restaurant.

If you have your kids for just part of the day, spend some time in advance planning out what special activity you would like to do together. Grab some sandwiches and hit the park to fly kites, throw a football around or ride bikes. Go for a hike, play a couple rounds of mini golf or plan a special meal you can make together.

If you have the kids for the whole day or weekend, make sure you have their typical nap, meal time and other schedules down pat so you can avoid any unnecessary meltdowns. Once again, get the kids involved in planning some activities. You could hit a baseball game or other sporting event together or have a “family movie night/slumber party”. If you know other divorced dads who have their kids for the day, send out invites for a kids/dad barbecue and lawn games.

When it comes to handling Father’s Day with your ex-husband, depending on the nature of your divorce, you may not be feeling a strong desire to shower him with gifts and celebrate his accomplishments as a father. But it is very important to support your kids in honoring their father; you must respect their relationship with him, and this is an opportunity to support that bond as you navigate your way through the ups and downs of the divorce process. Help them to pick out a gift for their father, encourage them to make cards for him, and do what you can to ensure they are able to spend some time with him.

The bottom line? Look at Father’s Day as an opportunity to get your kids involved in starting some new traditions. This will make the day much more enjoyable for everyone.  Dads – Leave a comment about how you plan to celebrate. Moms – leave a comment about how you are supporting your kids with Father’s Day.