So, this weekend is Father’s Day!
If you are separated or divorced, this is a day that can be filled with anxiety, frustration, anger and all kinds of emotions.
What I want to stress to you today is that no matter what kind of man/”ex” your children’s father is…he is still their father and they need him desperately!
• Regardless of what your children say
• Regardless of what he does
• Whether or not he pays, honors his obligations or is a kind/decent person
Your children need him!
I know how hard this is to absorb and to respect sometimes, but how you address him and this day, will be something your children will remember… forever!
Having your children disappointed in their father, guilty for loving him or afraid to tell you how they really feel for him will only close the door of trust and communication between you and them.
They need to be allowed to:
• love him
• spend time with him
• define their own relationship with him
• share their feelings and emotions about him with you in a safe and trusting way
• learn how to communicate with him
There is nothing that can come between your relationship with them except for your own insecurities and emotions about your “ex”.
So, here are my tips for you on this Father’s Day:
1. It’s not about you!
I don’t mean to sound offensive, but Father’s Day is not about how YOU feel about your Ex. It’s about your children. If your children have a good relationship with their father, then regardless of whose “day” it is, they should have the opportunity to spend time with him on this day. If they have a distant or unhealthy relationship with their father, then this is a day that will be filled with all kinds of emotions for them. They will need your strength, compassion and understanding.
2. Create a safe and trusting environment for communication.
Set a new pattern this year by opening the door to non-judgemental conversation about how they would like to celebrate father’s day. Would they like to see their father? What would they like to do on father’s day with their dad?
If they have a poor relationship with him, what would make them feel better? Perhaps a call or a card? The most important thing will be for you to LISTEN and NOT offer any feedback or opinion. Just an acknowledgement of what they feel and what they want.
3. Focus on the good.
This would be a great time for you to try and focus on the “good” parts of their father. Is he gentle? Is he creative? Is he generous with them? If you can find and acknowledge the good in your “ex”, you may be surprised that he might be able to rise to the occasion. Perhaps sharing with him that “ your children miss him and want very much to spend a bit of time with him…how could you support that?” The outcome may surprise you!
4. Celebrate your own father…their Grandfather.
Part of Father’s Day is also celebrating your own father…your children’s grandfather! Make sure that when you are scheduling the day and making time for your children to be with their father, that you also schedule in time to be with your father. If my children are going to spend the day with their dad…I always make arrangements with him to bring the kids to have breakfast/brunch with my father before I drop them off with him. We do the same on Mother’s Day….my children spend time with their dad and his family before or after they spend time with me.
5. Reward your maturity!
Congratulations! You have put your children’s emotions ahead of your own and taken a HUGE step in building trust and closeness between you and them! While they are out with their father, do something wonderful for yourself to acknowledge what you have done to support and encourage the very special bond between father and child.
No matter what the relationship between you and your “Ex”, your children need to know that you respect and honor their relationship with him and that you are not threatened by their love for him! It is something they will take with them for the rest of their lives!
Lastly, as a parent, it is your job to raise children that are unselfish and attentive to the feelings of others. Encourage them to call their father, buy a gift or card for him and acknowledge that it is a day to celebrate him. Just as they want to be celebrated on their birthdays and special milestones, they need to also put others first at different times during the year!