When the children’s father no longer lives with you it’s easy to excuse anything to help you forget the man who they call “Dad”.
Most divorced parents resent duplicity, and most think that making an effort for Father’s Day, to a man they don’t really care about too much is doing exactly that. More often than not, it’s also a little bit of tit-for-tat because many absent fathers forget Mother’s Day earlier in the year.
The most common phrase I hear when talking about Father’s Day with Divorced Parents is “Why bother?” Let me explain three good reasons why I believe making the effort on Father’s Day matters.
1. Because it’s better for the children
It’s better for the children to have their father in the family than to not. Even if the children’s father no longer lives with you, he is still an important part of the family. Even if you have a step-father in the children’s lives, he does not replace the children’s biological father. It’s important that their father is included in their lives when possible – and when the rest of the country is celebrating Father’s Day, it’s best not to have our children feeling left out.
2. Because it teaches children respect, honour and when to cherish
Most parents complain about the lack of respect our young people live by these days. Home is where they learn. If you can teach your children to honour and respect their father – even if you could list his many faults – you will do well for their later years when they have full independence of how their relationship with you will be. Respect (as I say), is ‘Caught not Taught’. Make sure your children catch it from you without a hint of disregard because you’ve felt that their father didn’t measure up to your expectations.
3. Because it gives you a chance to practise gratitude
Gratitude is frequently thought of as an outcome, but gratitude can be a very powerful way to get more of the goodness you want. It costs nothing to give, and takes only a bit of thought. While I’m not pretending that there are no issues, it is an opportunity for you to just say ‘thanks’. A simple way is to allow your children to remember Father’s Day – and if you’re going to see him, remember to say, “Happy Father’s Day”.
Do it for your children
It’s not as though Father’s Day creeps up on us and we don’t know about it. It’s advertised for weeks before hand. If you need ideas, they’re everywhere you look. But the most important thing is that you’re not expecting this to win brownie points or hoping that Mother’s Day will be remembered in return. This is about doing the best by your children.
Depending on the ages of your children and your budget, how about encouraging your kids to make a card, baking some cup-cakes and decorating them, or offering to help them select and wrap a little gift. The point is keeping the focus on giving what the children want to give and in the way they want to give it.
If you have the children for the weekend of Father’s Day, offer him to come and collect the kids for Sunday Brunch. If he doesn’t want to pick-up / drop-off, it’s obviously not that important to him so no big loss. If he wants to, it’s a good display of loving your children where they benefit most of all. Like most parents, he’ll be over the celebrations after the first ½ hour and the kids will be happy to have had the fuss before returning home with you for the rest of the day together.
Finally, it is really important to think a little ahead when you’ve fallen madly in love with the man of your dreams; one who helps out with the running around, pays for more than his share of the bills, and always has the wise words when dealing with your teens.
When you have this man beside you, I’m sure you’d like your children to show a little appreciation of Father’s Day for their Stepfather too. In our house, Stepfather is celebrated in equal honour as the biological father – and he both deserves and enjoys it equally.
So step aside from the aches and pains of parenting with your Ex and salute Fathers who really do thrive with a little appreciation too.