With Father’s Day (UK) approaching next weekend it’s time to think about your positive plan of action.
In March this year I wrote an article ‘A Happy Mother’s Day‘, thanks to many of our Beacon followers and contributors. What was saddening was the many private messages I received from friends and strangers sharing their negative experiences with their ex and especially on occasions such as birthdays, Christmas and Mother’s Day. Although I am not a parent, I am surrounded by friends and family who have been through separation and have ridden the roller coaster ride that is ‘co-parenting with an ex’.
Father’s Day can be an opportunity to acknowledge that no matter how tense and resentment-filled things get with an ex-partner, or how murky co-parenting waters can be in the initial years after a split, you’re grateful for the role he plays.
So ladies, will you step-up this Father’s Day and show appreciation to the father of your children? Although you’re no longer together, your ex-partner or ex-husband is the father of your children and deserves appropriate forms of recognition.
You want to show your children you still get along, if only for the sake of successful co-parenting, and part of proving that is acknowledging Father’s Day instead of avoiding the situation. I read some posts on a popular mum’s forum about Father’s Day and there were quite a few of the opinion that if your ex didn’t buy you a Mother’s Day card or gift then you shouldn’t have to buy them one, or the child is too young to be aware of the celebrations and/or my ex doesn’t deserve one… I couldn’t disagree more.
Looking from the outside in, Father’s Day is about a father and his children and it’s your opportunity to teach your children about positive parenting and healthy relationships. (caveat: If your ex has nothing to do with his children or has a no contact order against him seeing his children then by all means please ignore this advice and celebrate the day yourself for being both mum and dad!).
Keep things simple if things are a bit rocky. Here are just a few things to consider for the coming weekend.
- If it’s your weekend with the children and your ex would like to see them, try and be a bit flexible. Swap weekends or just take it on the chin that you may not have them two weekends in a row.
- If your children are young, they will probably make cards at school or nursery, however it might be a good idea to go with your children to let them choose a card for their dad and help them write it. There are also great sites such as moonpig.com and funkypigeon.com where you can send personalised cards and gifts.
- If you are going to buy a gift, involve the children in the decision.
- If emotions are still raw, make sure you are both clear on what the day is about and try not to get wires or emotions crossed! Great to spend the day as a family as long as there’s no confusion.
FOR MORE TIPS CHECK OUT: 5 TIPS FOR SEPARATED PARENTS – from Kate Day of Amicable
Here are some suggestions for what to write in the card from Allison Bagley, writing for the HuffPost (warning: some of them are a bit too cheesy for me but you hopefully you get the gist…)
Struggling on what to say? Here are 9 completely-honest, semi-light-hearted sentiments I’ll consider when I put pen to paper on my ex’s Father’s Day card this year…
1. Thanks for always keeping up with your part of the childcare duties. Because of you, I’ve experienced the magic of having an entire weekend in a silent, kid-free house to watch whatever the hell I want to on Netflix.
2. If our greatest achievement together was having our perfect children, it wasn’t a total bust. Happy Father’s Day!
3. I have never bad mouthed you in front of the kids and never will. Can’t say the same when I’m with my therapist or girlfriends, but cheers to you, Dad!
4. You’re the only person I’d want to co-parent with.
5. I’ll make you a deal. You do the Boy Scouts campouts, and I’ll do teacher’s gifts ‘til the end of time.
6. The kids adore you. It’s your day — enjoy it.
7. I promise to keep sending you photos of their ordinary, everyday accomplishments if you promise not to try to dress the kids yourself for important occasions.
8. Things are different now, but let’s be grateful for what we have: the ability to order a glass of wine at an awkward post-ballet-recital dinner or kids’ birthday party when both sets of in-laws are there. Cheers!
9. Let’s forgo meaningless gifts like neck ties and, instead, just exchange a high five once a year. Hey, the kids are alright, and we’re doing the best we can.
Taking in to account your partner or your ex’s partner
You are connected to your ex through your children, but one or both of you may have moved on to new partners and even have a new family. If your ex-husband is dating or involved, talk with him to see if it is appropriate for you to help celebrate Father’s Day. His significant other may already have plans made. In that case, it’s most appropriate to send over your children with a small gift or card, and leave the rest to your ex-husband and his partner.
On the other hand, if you’re dating someone inform them that you’d like to celebrate Father’s Day with your ex-husband and children, make it clear there are no romantic feelings attached to this choice. You are the best judge of this situation.
You don’t want to run the risk of confrontation on a day that’s supposed to be celebrating the father of your child, so do everything you can to keep any conflict out of the celebrations. Remember, communication is key, even after a divorce.
Honouring your children’s step-dad on Father’s Day
There are potentially two camps – there is the “YOU’RE NOT MY DAD!!” camp but also the “I know you’re not my biological father but you’re a great dad to me”. As this is a day for children to acknowledge their dad, consider talking to your child/children about how they feel about Father’s Day and how they want to show their appreciation (or not). Try not to force the situation if possible.
Whatever situation you are in, I hope that Sunday 17th June is a great day for you all!