Mother’s Day can be difficult for separated or divorced parents. It can stir up all sorts of issues and add pressure to an already stressful situation.
Not being a mother myself, I turned to the many contributors and followers of Beacon for their advice. I was saddened to receive so many messages from mum’s who had felt disappointed or unappreciated by their ex on Mother’s Day and had resorted to buying their own cards for the children to write via grandparents and other relatives. I am grateful to all of you who shared your story with me and have allowed me to post on your behalf.
I asked our Beacon followers “Should I expect a gift from my ex on Mother’s Day?” – here are just a handful of the responses we received.
“Sometimes in life it pays to be nice and this is one of those occasions. It’s irrelevant to a child that their parents are not together in a personal relationship – to them you will always be their ‘mum and dad’ and these roles should be celebrated. I think it’s kind, and a big positive for everyone, if your ex can say thank you for everything you do as a mother and recognise this with a gift. It doesn’t have to be big, expensive or flashy – it’s the thought that counts and for many that is priceless. At the end of the day raising children is all about teamwork, saying thank you every so often goes a long way. Happy parents = happy kids!”
“Children need a good example. Parents split up with each other, not the children. Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to teach, thoughtfulness, kindness, and appreciation.”
“My experience so far with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day- I bought a card for my ex from the children to give to their dad for Father’s Day. He so far has done the same, but initially I got my own Mother’s Day cards and gave them to my mum to give to the children to write- incase he didn’t think to get one. Seems to be ok so far, when they are old enough they can go and buy their own cards!”
“Yes I think I should get a gift as I know how disappointed my daughter was when she didn’t have a card or present to give me on my birthday. She kept saying “sorry mummy, I forgot”. She’s 3, and shouldn’t have to feel that guilt at such an age. I myself bought a card and gift for her to give her daddy on his birthday as I know the joy she feels in being able to share her loved ones’ special days. And it’s confusing for that to change just because my husband and I are separated.
As for seeing her on Mothers Day that is still yet to be seen as it is my ex’s weekend and he still hasn’t agreed she can see me. Very sad to punish our innocent little children over our selfish bitterness. At least I know I’m her mummy and she loves me everyday – I guess Mother’s Day is just a day after all – at least that’s what I’m telling myself.”
“I would love it and think it’s totally right that an ex should buy a gift from the children on Mother’s Day. However I have a very unthoughtful ex who has never ever done this for my young daughter. So it’s a good job my mum does this role and my daughter can enjoy buying something for me, bless.”
“I think personally, that if the kids are very young, the father should provide the kids with a gift for their mum. Older children should be given an allowance to choose a gift themselves. It’s only good practice in learning values and respect. Ex partners should never rubbish each other in front of the kids. Sadly, I never had my ex on board with this. He never kept in touch with his children.”
A big thank you to all the awesome mums for sharing their stories.
So guys, will you step-up this Mother’s Day and show appreciation to the mother of your children? Although you’re no longer together, your ex-wife or girlfriend is the mother of your children and deserves appropriate forms of recognition on Mother’s Day. I will be saying the same thing when it comes to Father’s Day later this year!
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 Mother’s Day instead of avoiding the situation.
Here are some tips for parents with young children on navigating Mother’s Day.
Tips for Dads
The Card – Get Creative!
The child/children (if they are still young) will no doubt make a handmade card at school for mum, however this doesn’t stop you from also sitting round the kitchen or coffee table with a pack of card, some glitter, felt tip pens and some floral accessories. It will give you time to bond with your children and show them that although you are not with their mum, you appreciate all she does for them. You can buy card-making packs from places like Home Bargains, Wilko’s, Asda or The Works. You have all week to go and purchase something, no excuses! Failing this, a shop-bought card will be more than welcome and it can be signed by your children.
Here are some creative ideas from Hobbycraft. Click here.
Flowers and chocolates are an acceptable gift of appreciation. Should it come from you, or be labeled with your children’s names? Do whatever feels most comfortable or appropriate for your situation. Even better, get the children involved in selecting a gift for their mum, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive and the more heartfelt the better.
Planning the Day
If it’s your day/weekend to have the children, could you perhaps be a bit flexible where you can on who has the children that day? – A little gesture like swapping your days can go a long way. Speak to your ex about what she would like to do on the day and if she would like you to be involved in a family day. Make sure you are both clear on what the day is about and try not to get wires or emotions crossed!
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-wife is dating or involved, talk with her to see if it is appropriate for you to help celebrate Mother’s Day. Her 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-wife and her partner.
On the other hand, if you’re dating someone inform them that you’d like to celebrate Mother’s Day with your ex-wife 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 mother of your child, so do everything you can to keep any conflict out of the celebrations. Remember, communication is key, even after a divorce.
Tips for Mums
Let your ex know what level of involvement you want from them in planning the day or whether you would like to have the children with you that weekend if it is not your usual weekend.
Its Just One Day
That’s easy for me to say as I am not a parent, I know, but I wish I was a mum. Just remember that you have a precious gift worth celebrating every day and if an argument with your ex about gifts, cards or custody breaks out it may upset the children and add extra pressure in an already stressful situation.
If all else fails and your ex is a [insert swear word of choice] then celebrate the day yourself, buy yourself a great gift, plan a spa trip with your mum or mum-friends. Every mum deserves a reward for all the hard work, stress and worry that goes in to being a parent!
Don’t Forget to Treat Your Mum Too!
Being a Step Mum on Mother’s Day
So what’s it like being a step-mum on Mother’s Day? In some cases, they are adored and loved as much as their birth mother and sometimes it can be an uphill struggle to feel appreciated for all you do to help shape their lives, care for them and their father. I spoke to an amazing mum and step-mum about her experience prior to having her own child.
What is Mother’s Day like for you?
“Mother’s Day as a step parent can be tricky, over the years I have taken the children shopping to buy a gift with my own money for a woman that has even refused to meet me. I’m so over it all it, for me it really is just about the kids and being a good role model for them.”
Do you feel you are treated differently to their birth mother?
“The eldest would constantly say around that time “you won’t get anything because you’re not anyone’s mum” but not in a malicious or hurtful way more to reaffirm in her own head that her mum is her mum and I’m not.”
Now that you have your own child do you feel any different?
“This year of course will be very different and I suppose for me until this point the celebrations have always been about making a fuss of my own mum. I can live without the tacky cushion and mug and know that I make a really positive difference in 3 girls lives rather than worrying about labels or named days.”
“I can hand on heart say I’ve never felt left out or jealous because I’ve never tried to be their mum, just another adult that puts them first and loves and cares for them very much.”
If your ex-partner has a new (or established) girlfriend or wife who is very much in your children’s lives, please spare her a thought on Mother’s Day too. In most cases (not all), she is trying to do the best she can as a step-mother to care for your children.