As a divorced mom, I understand that Father’s Day can be a difficult day.  You may feel as if you are doing the majority of being Mom and Dad for your kids and their Father gets to swoop in one day and be “fun Dad.”  It may seem that Dad buys the kids frivolous luxuries when their needs aren’t being met.  You may feel upset about his lack of consistency in parenting time or paying support. I know how it feels to navigate the difficulties of co-parenting and the complexities of expanding blended families.

Always Put Your Children First. As long as their father is not abusive or neglectful, try to promote a positive relationship with their Dad. Don’t put your children in the middle. Don’t let resentments show or conflict occur in front of your children. Practice forgiveness. Divorce doesn’t harm children. Conflict does. Even if you are angry or sad, put a smile on your face and be cordial at exchanges and positive about parenting time. Don’t bad talk the other parent. Don’t blame the other parent (even if there is blame there for the divorce or other issues). Your children shouldn’t know the specifics of your divorce or whether their Father pays child support or how much. Let your kids be kids.

Help Your Children Connect with their Father. You want your children to have a positive relationship with their Father. Reach out to him and confirm parenting time for Father’s Day weekend. Offer additional parenting time.  Help your children connect with their father even if they can’t be physically present.  Help them make a card, schedule videochats through Facetime or Skype. Talk about their Father’s positive aspects. Is their Dad funny or sensitive or kind or smart or strong?  What drew you to him in the first place? Talk about the positive and quirky ways that they are like their Father? Does your child like the same chips as their Dad? Do they both snort laugh? Is blue or green both of their favorite colors?

Have a positive attitude. Tell your children that they are going to have fun with their Dad. Convey to the children through your body language and words that you are ok when they are not with you. These children are going to grow up and leave the home, they need to know that you are fine. Don’t tell them that you are sad when they are gone or that you miss them. Don’t put your adult emotions on your children. Talk to a friend, family member, or a therapist. You are responsible for your own emotions.

Plan Ahead. Plan to do something nice for yourself on Father’s Day. Fun times don’t have to cost a lot of money. Sleep in. Binge watch your favorite show. Go on a hike. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Get a manicure or pedicure. Reach out and connect with other divorced moms and spend time together.

Connect your kids to their Father’s history, culture, and/or community even if you don’t share the same one. Learn more about your children’s culture and their family history. If possible and positive, connect your children to both sides of their extended family. Share with your children their family history and culture. Talk to them about about their grandparents and where they are from. Children love to learn about their connection to their family, culture, and community.