Father’s Day When You Are Divorced

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This coming Sunday will be the third Father's Day since my ex and I decided to divorce. Holidays are often emotionally charged, representing times when one of us has to be without the kids. They are the days that when I go out, I am always seemingly surrounded by intact families.

Throughout the struggles of the divorce process and learning to co-parent across two homes, I have always worked hard to remember one thing: Keep focused on the kids.

It is difficult to do. No matter how “amicable” a divorce, the entire process pits the two of you against each other. Between haggling over finances and custody and trying to imagine every need until your kids are 18, all the hurt and resentment from an unhappy marriage has a way of coming to the surface.

We said cruel things during our divorce; we belittled each other; we minimized each other's efforts in our marriage and in our children’s lives.

Frankly, none of that matters. We do not have to be married anymore, but we do have children together. We need to put aside the failures of our marriage and focus on what is important: Two kids who only need to know that they are loved and safe — and that they can love both of their parents freely.

That's it.

{ MORE: 10 Things Not to Say to Children with Divorced Parents }

Because of that, my ex and I have spent time together with our kids on their birthdays and occasionally will take them out together. When we are both at a weekend soccer game or a school function, we sit together. It is difficult sometimes, but on those days, I try to remember how fortunate I am to have a co-parent who works together with me to make these types of events possible.

This week, I will help my kids make Father's Day cards for their dad. I remember how excited I would get to make cards and gifts for my own father when I was little. Abby and Austin are the same way—I would not dream of taking that joy away from them. Every day, they deal with a lot more stress and chaos than most kids their age, shuttling between daycare and two homes by no fault of their own. I will do my part to give them as much normalcy as possible on holidays.

{ MORE: 15 Ways to Take Care of Yourself This Valentine's Day }

I will help them make the cards and pack them into the suitcase for the weekend. Sunday will be their day. Will I struggle a bit when I see the families out together on Father's Day? Absolutely. I will still smile when my kids walk in the door Sunday night and ask them about their day's adventures.

Have you had to face holidays as a divorced parent? How do you deal? 

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Father’s Day When You Are Divorced

Tracy Jensen is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, and music lover. A working, single mom of two kids ages six and five, she is notorious for doing things the hard way. In addition to writing for EverydayFamily, she survives suburban exile by blogging about life’s foibles at It Builds Character. She can be found at night ignoring the dishes and playing on Twitter. ... More

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2 comments

  1. Gregory says:

    I got a divorce from my first wife in 1995 when my kids were 15 and 12 and I had stayed in the house while it was going thru until May 1996….I got to see my kids very little and Fathers’; day was one of the few times I got to see them…I was supposed to have them stay overnight once a month and see them at least 2 times a month and for certain holidays we were supposed to switch every year, but that was never the case…and as time went on she would never allow them to stay over and to even see me at times when she did not feel like having them at my place..i fought over this with the courts but she always got out of it in some way…so I missed seeing my 2 boys on Fathers’ day a lot of years after that and for my birthday…I was very close to them and always did what I could , but she turned them against me and now my youngest got married and I was not even invited o his wedding,…never got an invite, copy of his wedding photo and now he is expecting a child with his wife and I am sure I will not see my grandchild or even get a picture…so it has made Fathers’ day for me a very sad time except for my step-daughter form my second wife and he husband and 2 boys they have….they are my family now and make me glad I have them in my life…she is like my own daughter and have always treated her as such since I met her….and so that is my story of being a divorced parent on Fathers’ Day

    • Tracy Jensen says:

      I don’t have adequate words, but I am sorry that your divorce meant losing your relationship with your kids. It shouldn’t have to be that way. I am glad that you have your step-daughter, although I know that can never take away the hurt from the damage done.

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