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“It’s Father’s Day! What do I do?”: A Tip for Divorced Mothers

So, as a divorced single parent, you are probably working double duty to raise your kids, run your household and earn a living.  The kids’ dad may see them regularly and may even be participating in their lives in a very positive way.  Or, maybe he is not.  Either way, you are faced with what to do as your kids face holidays which honor their father.  We are talking about Father’s Day, their dad’s birthday and any other days your family has traditionally celebrate

If you and your “ex” were still together, it is likely that you, as the Mom, would take your kids out to buy cards and gifts or help them get together materials to make their own. Depending on their ages and their wishes, you would probably be sort of a facilitator.  You might remind them about the holiday, transport them to stores, depending on their ages pay for whatever they chose for gifts and make the experience of honoring their dad positive and even fun.  As a result, it is likely the kids would feel engaged and proud as they participated.

Now, that you are not married, should your role be any different?  If your “ex” has helped your kids honor you for Mother’s Day, your birthday or any other relevant celebration, it probably feels okay to  reciprocate.  However, if your “ex” has not helped your kids honor you and basically, has left them to manage on their own, it is less appealing to be helpful.  This reluctance becomes stronger if you believe that he has been neither a good dad nor a good spouse/ex-spouse.

Here’s the tip:  It is really important to remember that your feelings about your ex-spouse are not relevant here. It’s not about you. It’s about the kids!  As a Mom, of course, you want to do what is best for your kids.  So, do whatever you can to be helpful.  Once kids are old enough to know about Father’s Day, ask them what they want to do.  Listen to them and if they need help, help them. Kids just want life to be normal.  As Mom, you want that for them, too.

By the way, if you have a child who is resistant, double check, accept his feelings, and in the end, let it go.  However, first, see if he is open to having a low key conversation with you about what is going on.   If he is uncomfortable, drop it.  (While it is unlikely, should you sense strong feelings which make you  concerned, remember, you always have the option of talking with a professional. )

Just know that by being positive and open to helping your children with Father’s Day, you contribute to their sense of feeling normal and feeling good about themselves.  You also gain a better understanding of how the divorce is affecting them and how they are feeling about their dad.  As a Mom, these are things you want to know.

So, take a deep breath, enjoy your children’s enthusiasm and be as helpful as you can!

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