Going through a contentious divorce can make it difficult to see the big picture. If your divorce involves minor children, you should try to keep your children’s exposure to conflict to a minimum. This means putting your feelings towards your ex-spouse or co-parent aside for the sake of the children. With Father’s Day approaching, parents should make sure to discuss how the day is going to be shared to allow the children the opportunity to celebrate the day with their dad, or dads, in a manner that makes feel special and important.
Make Time for Dads.
It is important to discuss custody and visitation early on in the divorce process to make sure that both parents are on the same page, or at least in the same book. Whether you are equally sharing custody or have a set visitation plan, discussing holidays well in advance avoids disputes and last-minute demands for time with the children. For Father’s Day, the goal should be to ensure the children get to spend part of the day, or even the entire day or weekend, with their dad. Of course, the same concept would apply to Mother’s Day. However, simply dividing Father’s Day does not work for every family. Some families have two dads, or a dad and a step-dad, or dad may need to celebrate Father’s Day on a different day due to travel or work. You should remember that being flexible and discussing options in advance reduces conflict down the road and will likely lead to better co-parenting in the future.
Facilitate Gift Giving.
Father’s Day and Mother’s Day often involve the children either making or purchasing a gift or greeting card for their parents. When a couple is still together, usually the Mother or co-parent would help the children with putting together a Father’s Day gift for dad. Well, what happens after the parents separate?
Often, after separation, the feelings between parents may make it difficult to want to do anything nice for your ex-spouse or co-parent. But going a little out of your way to make dad feel special is an opportunity to show your willingness to co-parent despite your differences. For mom, this might mean providing the children with access to markers and paper for the them to create a handmade card, or taking them to a store to pick out a little gift. Put yourself in dad’s shoes and think about how nice it would be for the children to feel supported by dad to make you feel special on Mother’s Day. A small gesture can go a long way.
It can take a while for a family to adjust to sharing holidays after parents separate. The needs of the children may change as they get older and the parents need to support the children by listening to them and including them in the process, when appropriate. At the end of the day, you and your ex are still a family unit and being patient and supportive of one another goes a long way.
Contact Hepner & Pagan for assistance with your custody disputes.