(NEW YORK) -- Adjusting to the change that comes from celebrating holidays as an intact family to one altered by parental divorce is emotionally challenging, particularly in the immediate years following separation.
Father's Day is a reminder for all parents that consistently placing your children's needs first after divorce can be difficult. Dr. Julie Gowthorpe, author of Tainted Love: Why Your Ex is Making You Miserable and What You Can Do About It, shares eight strategies for keeping kids of divorce happy this Father's Day.
1. Remember that Children Love Both Parents:
Father's Day is a wonderful opportunity for moms to show their children how supportive they are of the father-child relationship. Even a gesture like purchasing a card from the children to Dad or encouraging children to craft a card for their father demonstrates support of the father-child relationship.
2. Parenting is Forever:
Although your former partner is no longer your husband, they will forever be your children's father. Allow and encourage your children to enjoy Father's Day as a time to celebrate with Dad. Father's Day should be reserved for time with Dad, even if it falls on Mom's scheduled time.
3. Encourage Ample Father-Child Time:
Avoid the desire to schedule other events on Father's Day that may interfere with the children's time with their father. For example, far too often moms say to dads, "Yes, you can take them from 11 to 1 but I need them back then because I have other plans." This narrowing of time only creates unnecessary stress for children and resentment within the parental relationship. Moms should consider Father's Day a hands-off time for scheduling other activities.
4. Children Worry Even if They Don't Tell You:
Parents constantly need reminders of this point. If children feel that you are not going to have a good day because they are not with you, this will interfere with their ability to enjoy Father's Day with their dad. Remind children that you WANT them to enjoy time with their father.
5. Make Father's Day and Mother's Day Holidays That Do Not Require Problem Solving:
Father's Day should always be spent with Dad and Mother's Day with Mom unless there is an exceptional circumstance. For parents in the early stages of developing a parenting plan, have this written into the agreement.
6. Children Have One World:
Father's Day is an opportunity to remind children that they have a family that loves them unconditionally. Unconditional love means not only allowing, but promoting time between your child, their other parent, grandparents and extended family.
7. Sharing the Day Should be Purposeful and Child-Focused:
If you are balancing time with the children's father as well as maternal grandparents and extended family, ensure that you are making these decisions purposefully and implement strategies to make the juggling as stress-free as possible for kids.
8. Parents need to Be Healthy for Children:
Moms may use Father's Day as a self-care occasion. Be mindful that this is an opportunity for you to move forward for yourself and your child.
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