Father’s Day is usually something dads can look forward to, but for single dads, after a long divorce, the first Father’s Day can be a little awkward for the kids. However, it can also be an opportunity for you to convince them that everything will be fine, even with how things currently are.
Ultimately, It’s Still About the Kids
Sure, Father’s Day is Father’s Day, but especially right after a divorce, it’s often still about the kids. This can be an opportunity for you to create precious memories with your children for years to come and help cement the idea that they don’t necessarily have to be bad despite things being so drastically different now.
Don’t Bring Your Partner Into It.
There’s nothing wrong with getting back into the dating pool after a divorce (or even during one) – but you really shouldn’t involve your new partner in things like Father’s Day fresh off the split. With time, your kids might come to accept that both you and their mother have moved on. But for the first year, a change as drastic as involving your significant other in a family day like Father’s Day might ruin it for the kids. And, as we’ve said, it’s ultimately about the kids.
Try Out a Brand-New Tradition
A total shift in circumstances, like a divorce, is an excellent excuse to begin making new traditions. Think about what you might enjoy doing with the kids on Father’s Day (and what the kids might enjoy doing with you) and plan a day around activities you might want to repeat every year, whether it’s a big day in the outdoors, a visit to the stadium, building something together, or something entirely different.
Don’t Write Off Mom Entirely.
You might be tempted to use the occasion of Father’s Day to pretend, at least for a bit, that mom is out of the picture – but for most divorced families, she isn’t, and doing nothing to mention her can worry your kids a bit. You don’t need to be best friends with your ex. But be sure to ask your kids at least once how their mom is doing.
Even if your kids understand that a divorce was the best thing for both you and their mom, they probably love both of you very much and might feel a little better knowing you would like to hope at least that she’s doing well. With time, they might see things in a different light or get used to the situation. Doing so might be of relatively little benefit to you, but it might help take the sting out of being reminded that the split is real so early on into the whole ordeal.
What If You’re On Your Own?
Circumstances might not always be ideal, and depending on the setup and conditions of your parenting plan, you might not have the kids on Father’s Day. They might still send you messages or bring you a gift the following week, but that doesn’t mean you should just let the day fall through entirely. You can still make the most of Father’s Day, and you should use it as an opportunity to celebrate fatherhood, whether by yourself or with others.
Take the Day for Yourself
It’s fine. Really. You’ve been through a lot. It would help if you treated yourself – whether it’s by taking the day, getting yourself something you’ve really wanted for a while (maybe without breaking the bank), and enjoying the day as a “me day.”
It might seem counterintuitive to treat yourself by taking care of others. Still, there is merit to the idea of giving over receiving, not just in a spiritual sense but a very tangible psychological sense. We’re social creatures, after all, and the act of doing someone else a kindness can feel much more rewarding than being on the receiving end of that charity.
Spend the Day with Your Dad
Just because the kids can’t spend the day with you doesn’t mean you can’t spend the day with another dad. Your dad.
Knock Something Off the List
We’ve all got our lists, and each one has at least one item that’s been there for a good year or two. It might be an appointment with the dentist for that tooth problem that’s been bothering you or getting to the optician for a new prescription, or just taking the time to deal with the mess in the yard. If you’ve got the day and want to do yourself a kindness, why not finally knock that thing off the list?
There’s more than a grain of truth to the idea of letting off some steam – physical activity can do both the mind and body a lot of good, help resolve stress, and acts as an effective and healthy coping mechanism. If you feel like you need a little time for yourself and aren’t in the mood to have a heart-to-heart with a professional, then putting your body to use can be a potential alternative. It is important to clarify that physical activity, while good, shouldn’t be compared to therapy in cases where you might feel that you’re dealing with more than just a natural reaction to the divorce process.
Even in less than amicable divorce situations, the actual judgment itself, and the finality of the decision, can weigh heavily on people who spent decades loving each other. It’s okay to think about processing your emotions. But if you want a suggestion for how to spend your Father’s Day without the kids, tackling a physical project – whether it’s fixing the lawnmower, doing a little bit of renovating, yard work, or just hitting the bag – can feel great.
It Gets Easier
The first few holidays after the divorce are incomparably awkward, especially if you’re used to spending that time with your kids and their mom. But it does get better. By finding time for new traditions or taking the day for yourself, you can start to commemorate this new chapter in your life. If you need help transitioning into the role of single dad after the divorce, don’t hesitate to reach out to your loved ones for support and advice.
Divorce is an adamant time for everyone involved. While Father’s Day should be a time to commemorate your role as a dad, there will be years when you might have to take the opportunity to take a little time for yourself, show appreciation for your own dad, or try and help your kids get used to the idea of spending certain holidays separate from mom or dad.