Father’s Day is an opportunity to show the dads, husbands, grandfathers and all of the other father figures in your life how much they are loved and appreciated. It can also be a difficult day for families who are coping with the fallout of a divorce, particularly if this is the first Father’s Day that you are not spending the day together as a family. Just because you and your spouse are no longer married it does not mean that your relationship with your children should suffer. While custody agreements will determine parenting schedules, you and your ex-spouse can follow some simple strategies that acknowledge each other’s roles as parents, and the important role that you both play in your children’s lives. If you need assistance with custody agreements or other issues related to your divorce, do not hesitate to contact a skilled divorce lawyer.
What Are Some Tips to Help Enjoy Father’s Day After a Divorce?
Every family has unique circumstances that will impact their custody agreement, and whether or not the father will be able to spend the day with his children on Father’s Day. The following tips can help divorced parents navigate these uncharted waters:
- Keep the lines of communication open. If the children are scheduled to be with their mother on Father’s Day weekend, both parents should discuss the schedule and consider modifying the it so that the children can spend either the weekend, or the day on Sunday with the children. Ultimately, both parents should make an effort to maintain a respectful and civil relationship, and be willing to make changes to the parenting agreement if it is in the best interest of the children.
- Plan ahead. This is one of the most important steps that a father can take to ensure that the day is as enjoyable and stress-free as possible for his children. A parenting plan will specify which parent has custody of the children and when, including holidays and other special events. Both parents should work together to create a parenting plan that works for all family members. Check the calendars to see if the children have any sports or activities scheduled for that day, and make necessary adjustments to the plan.
- Talk to the children. Once the parents have come to an agreement about how Father’s Day is going to be handled, they should talk to their children about what to expect from the day, including whether they are going to spend the weekend, or just Sunday with their dad. When plans are made, or changed without the children’s knowledge, it can be stressful for them, particularly when they have been looking forward to spending time with their dad.
- Create new traditions. Even though the family is no longer living together, you can still create new traditions for Father’s Day. You may love going on hikes, but your former spouse is not an outdoorsy person. You can start a new Father’s Day tradition by taking a hike with the kids. Talk to the children about what they would like to do and that activity can become a new tradition. If there are traditions that you and the children no longer enjoy, skip them and focus on new traditions that help create new memories.
- Avoid introducing a new love interest. Father’s Day is not the time to introduce children to your new significant other. Divorce is difficult enough for children without feeling as though a stranger is infringing on your time together. You may be excited about the relationship and eager to introduce your children to this new person in your life. However, it is highly recommended that you share this news on a different day rather than introducing a new person on a day intended for close family.
- Make alternate plans. If spending Father’s Day together is not going to work out for whatever reason, make plans to celebrate Father’s Day on a different date. In the meantime, schedule a virtual visit via Google Hangout, Facetime, or Skype so that you can at least see each other on Father’s Day.
- Be patient. Change can be difficult, and everyone handles the aftermath of a divorce differently. Depending on your children’s age, they may act out, become depressed or struggle with their emotions and take it out on the people closest to them. Try to encourage them to talk about their feelings and remind them that you and your ex-spouse love them very much. While this may be easier said than done, try to be patient with your ex-spouse as well and focus on the fact that you both want what is best for the children.
- Keep negative comments to yourself. Some couples are fortunate enough to resolve their divorce amicably, and remain on friendly terms after the divorce has been finalized. Unfortunately, that is not the case with all couples. Even if you went through an ugly divorce, your children need to know that you and your ex-spouse have a mutual respect for one another and can set your differences aside for the sake of the kids. If you are trying to negotiate visitation so that you can spend time with the children on Father’s Day but your ex-spouse refuses to modify the schedule, do not fight, or make disparaging comments about your ex in front of the children. Take the high road and try to keep the conversation civil and respectful.
How Can I Get Through Father’s Day If I Cannot Spend Time with My Children?
If you and your ex-spouse have a custody agreement in place, you both have to abide by the parenting plan set out by the agreement. That means that there may be times – like Father’s Day – when you would like to spend time with your children, but they are scheduled to be with your ex-spouse. Oftentimes, both spouses are willing to be flexible for the sake of the children, and swap weekends so that the children can spend Father’s Day with their dad. However, sometimes scheduling conflicts and other unforeseen circumstances can derail Father’s Day plans. There are a number of things that dads can do to get through Father’s Day without their kids, including:
- Spend time with friends or family. Just because you cannot see your children on Father’s Day does not mean that you cannot enjoy the day with friends and family. For example, make plans to see your own dad, or a friend or sibling who is a dad. This will give you the opportunity to spend time with nieces and nephews.
- Plan an outdoor activity. Whether you enjoy a day on the golf course, a long run or a strenuous hike, physical activity is a great way to boost your mood and let off steam.
- Plan a weekend trip. If you know that your children will not be with you for Father’s Day, take advantage of the free weekend and plan a trip. It could be a weekend at the beach, a quick trip to the mountains or a weekend in the city with some friends. Either way, doing something that you enjoy will keep your mind occupied so that you do not dwell on not being able to see your children.
- Volunteer. Many charities are short-handed on holidays and would welcome the extra set of hands. If you have free time on Father’s Day, consider volunteering at an animal shelter, a food kitchen, or a non-profit organization that interests you.
- Check items off your to-do list. Whether it is a house project that you have been putting off, a movie that is not kid-friendly or an exhibit at a museum that you have been wanting to see, take advantage of the free day or weekend to check some of these activities off your list.
- Make plans with friends. If you have friends who are single, do not have kids, or are in the same predicament as you, make plans to go to a sporting event, play a round of golf, or get together for a barbeque. This will prevent you from feeling lonely and missing your kids.
Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Assist Clients with Custody Issues
If you have custody issues or need to modify your existing custody agreement, contact the Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. With offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we assist clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.