With Father’s Day quickly approaching, we have received many questions on co-parenting during the holidays. Co-parenting is always challenging especially when it comes to coordinating plans for the holidays. Father’s Day is a wonderful opportunity for children to show Dad that he is loved. Whether you are recently divorced or separated, or you have been separated for some time, it can be hard to deal with the fact that you will no longer celebrate holidays like you used to, but it is important to put feelings aside and keep in mind the best interests of the children. Remember when it comes to the children you are co-parent, not an ex.
Here are some tips to implement for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, regardless of what co-parenting stage you are in:
- Be Flexible.
Look for an opportunity for compromise when it comes to changing the custodial schedule for the holiday. Working together to make a plan that works for everyone can show your co-parent that you are willing to make compromises for the best interest of your children.
If Dad’s custody time falls on Father’s Day, there shouldn’t be too much coordinating to do. If Dad’s time doesn’t fall on Father’s Day, try to be flexible with giving him time for his special day. Same for Mother’s Day.
If you feel resentful or hurt toward your co-parent, remind yourself that this is a special occasion for the children and you should do your best to give them the opportunity to appreciate the honored parent.
- Remain United.
Remember that you and your co-parent are a team when it comes to your children. Keep in mind that you would probably want to spend time with the children on your honored day, and your ex most likely wants the same for their honored day. Show your children that you can work well as a team, even if you aren’t together anymore.
- Involve Your Children in the Holiday, Not the Dispute.
Remind your children that Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day) is coming up and try to involve them in the planning. See what the children would like to do for and with the honored parent. Maybe they would like to make a card, get a gift, or spend the day with the honored parent. Taking the time to help your children make a card is a great way to show them that you respect your co-parent and are supportive of them maintaining a relationship with the children.
- Be Clear with Your Co-Parent.
Be specific with your requests for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. Let your co-parent know exactly what you want the plans to be for the day and take note of your co-parent’s requests as well.
- Appreciate “Bonus Dads” (Step Fathers)
Holidays that are meant to honor mom or dad can be difficult, and an additional layer is added when there is a step parent in the picture. In blended families, Father’s Day can cause mixed feelings for biological parents, step parents, and children. This is where planning and balance are key to avoid conflict!
As cooperative co-parents, we have to balance acknowledging Dad and “Bonus Dad.” The purpose of Father’s Day is to acknowledge whoever is a father figure to the children, even if they are not the biological father. If the children are close to both Dad and Bonus Dad, they should be encouraged to give appreciation to both.
If children are given time with Dad, remember to reserve some time with Bonus Dad too. It is important not to let one feel left out.
- Same-Sex Co-Parents on Father’s Day
As same-sex co-parents, try to split up the time with the children. Make sure both Dads (or moms) get to spend quality time with the children.
Don’t be afraid to spread out the celebration. If it is difficult to allow time for both Dads on Father’s Day, extend the celebration to the whole weekend to give both time with the children.
Always remember, even if your co-parent is not being a team player, it is important that your children have happy memories of their holidays even if their parents are not living in the same place!