Being a single dad on Fathers Day could be a difficult experience to endure. In some ways it is even harder for single dads than it is for single moms on Mother’s Day because children traditionally have a stronger bond with their mother than with their father.
There are a number of things that you as a single father should keep in mind when it comes to Father’s Day. In addition there are several things for your children as well as your ex to take responsibility for on this very special day. Just because things did not work out does not mean that you do not still have the same rights to participate in your children’s lives. In many cases it is even more important to assert your right to a Father’s Day celebration now that you are a single dad. However, there is a time and a place for everything and you will have to analyze your personal situation to decide if a celebration is appropriate or not.
Survival Tips for Single Fathers on Father’s Day
Accept That it Will be Tough
Whatever the reason for your status as a single father, you will most likely find Father’s Day to be tough, and this is something that you will simply have to accept. Divorced men are at a higher risk for depression and emotional problems than divorced women. This is a fairly well-known statistic. There are three ways that you can deal with this:
- Create a support system
- Get advice from other fathers who seem to know what they are doing
- Go for counseling
A note for children: This is a tough day for your dad. He may not show it, because “men don’t cry”, but at some level he is probably struggling. Make it as easy for him as you can. Remember that it’s not easy even for a man to raise children alone.
Don’t Force the Kids
Although it is one of your rights to have a Father’s Day with your children, do not force them. They may simply not be ready. They may not have yet been able to deal with all of the issues surrounding the reason why you are a single father, even if you have found a way to cope with them. If you’re divorced, expect them to hold some resentment. If mom has passed away, make sure that you have assessed their emotional level before instigating a Father’s Day plan so that you do not upset them and yourself. Also remember that adolescents tend to lose interest in days like Father’s Day, even in families where parents are still together, so if this happens in your family, don’t automatically take it personally.
A note for children: If you want to make dad know you’re there for him, go for it. But you also need to be careful about forcing the issue too much if he is not ready for it.
Considering the Stepdad Issue
If there is a stepfather involved you will need to settle your feelings about him. Remember that you and he are raising the same child or children and therefore you need to work together to achieve the best results possible. Basically, you should play nice. Accept that your children may want to celebrate Father’s Day with their new father, but also be sure to make up for it on another occasion. The stepfather may not be as willing as you are to play ball, but you have to show willing for your children’s sake.
A note for moms: Your new husband is the new important man in your life, but your ex is still the father of your children. Try to make time for them to celebrate with both their father and their stepfather, and do not force them into either situation.
Father’s Day Isn’t About Money
If you don’t have money for a fancy Father’s Day celebration with your children, don’t worry about it. This is not a day for money in any case, but rather a day for spending time with your children. It is a good way to teach them values and show them that you value and respect them as people. Some suggestions about what you could do instead include:
- Having your children read you a story
- Going for a walk in the woods
- Going fishing
- Drawing pictures with them and then getting a cheap frame
If you have older children who have expressed an interest in celebrating Father’s Day let them know what kind of day you would like and talk with them about how you together can achieve that day.
A note for children: Think about Father’s Day a little bit and don’t expect dad to come up with all of the ideas. Small things make a big difference.
Long-Distance Father’s Day Celebrations
In some cases you may be limited on Father’s Day because you live too far away from your children. It is important in this situation that you make a point of finding a way to celebrate with your child in any case. Technically Father’s Day should be a celebration where your children tell you how much they love you. However children tend to not think about these things. This is normal, and you should not take it personally. Therefore, on Father’s Day, you should take the initiative and send them a card or email, or even give them a call, just to let them know that you are thinking about them on Father’s Day. Remind them how lucky you feel to be their dad. This will instill the value of Father’s Day in their minds and they will honor you for it.
When Mom Stands in the Way
Although many divorced and separations are amicable, there are also many that are not. In short, your ex may try to stand in the way of your right to see your children on Father’s Day and this is something that you will have to tackle. If she has custody, respect her viewpoint, but be sure to let your child know that you love him or her. Use the same methods mentioned in the previous point.
A note for moms: It is very important that you stand aside on certain days and let your ex have time with his children. For the sake of your children you should try to emphasize the positive rather than the negative side of the relationship. He is still their father and deserves to spend some time with them. Don’t add to your children’s stress by being perpetually negative.
As a single father you will need to practice forgiveness, especially on days like Father’s Day, and it is important to forgive so that your children see u as a good example. If your ex does not allow you to see your children on Father’s Day, do not bad mouth her in front of them. Make it clear that you want to see them, but that you respect their mother’s decision on the matter. Your fight with your ex is not your children’s problem and you should not draw them into it.
A note for moms: Clearly this applies equally to you!
A note for children: Sometimes if dad doesn’t see you on days like Father’s Day or your birthday it is not that he doesn’t want to. Look into the facts carefully before getting angry and judging.
On days like Father’s Day you and your ex-wife may have to compromise. For example it is common for mom to help the kids pick out a Father’s Day gift for dad. If this is a tradition that can be kept up it will be very good for the children. In return, you can offer to help them find gifts for her on Mother’s Day and her birthday and so on. This will require a certain amount of compromise from both sides as well as open communication, but it is something that will make Father’s Day significantly easier.
A note for moms: Father’s Day can be stressful for you too, but do not let this stand in the way of what is best for your children. Your ex does a lot, whether he is raising them or paying alimony, so give him the recognition he deserves.
A lot of these tips and ideas are easier said than done, as it may be difficult to maintain the kinds of relationships mentioned above with your children and your ex. However, in the long run, everyone will benefit if you, as the single father, try your best. Father’s Day could be very emotional, especially shortly after a divorce or the loss of your wife. If this is the case, and you think that you will not be able to handle the day, you should perhaps just leave things be until next year. However, if your children make the effort out of their own, don’t shut them out. However, it could also just be another fun day spent together with a father and his children, doing activities which bring you all closer together.