Holidays are a time to reminisce and appreciate our loved ones; but for a family that is in the midst of a divorce or breakdown it can be filled with anxiety, depression, and strife. If you and your family have recently undergone a significant change in dynamics here are some things you can do to make the Father’s Day weekend a more positive experience for your children:
Tips for Mothers:
· Talk to your children about their heritage. Share stories and photos of your father, grandfather, and the other men in your family’s lineage. Make Father’s Day inclusive of all of the father figures in your family, and their legacies, not just your ex.
· Don’t make your children feel guilty for celebrating their father. Encourage them to buy or make dad a present. While you may have very valid reasons for detesting your significant other, keep in mind that for your children’s benefit, its best they do not share in, or even know, about that sentiment. The core of children’s self-confidence and identity comes from feeling loved and valued by both of their parents. Don’t hurt your children in the same way that your spouse hurt you.
· Be generous in giving dad ample and flexible parenting time during the Father’s Day weekend. While many holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a tug of war, trying to ensure that the children spend time with both sides of their family, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day should be more straight forward.
Tips for Fathers:
· Remember that this is only an arbitrary day and that each day can and should be Father’s Day. You want to build a relationship with your children where they feel comfortable and desire to express their love and gratitude with you on a daily basis. Celebrate each and every day with your children as if it were a momentous occasion. Share meals and quality time consistently, not just on certain days on the calendar.
· You may be feeling a bit sad and lonesome if the break from your significant other is fresh. Often we picture Father’s Day as a celebration with a nuclear family. If that is no longer a possibility, create a new tradition with your children. You may have to be in the driver’s seat to figure out how to celebrate the occasion. It can seem counter-intuitive, like planning your own birthday; however, if you have small children, its up to you to take control of the day and set the temperature. Maybe the new tradition is to go out to breakfast, visit a park, go camping, etc. Make it something that you and your kids can look forward to year after year. You and your kids are both craving consistently. Create something to look forward for your sake and for theirs’.
· Remember that even if your relationship with your ex didn’t work out, and your former spouse forgot to nominate you as Husband of the Year, it doesn’t mean you are any less of a father. Keep your spirits up. Don’t sulk. Don’t be melancholy. This is a day to celebrate all of your achievements as a great dad. There are many reasons why perfectly good people can’t make relationships work, but it doesn’t affect their ability to love and nurture their children wholeheartedly. Stop identifying your family with your ex. Move forward and give your children all of the love and attention they deserve, and in turn, naturally, they will do the same to you.
Marie Sarantakis is the Principal Attorney of Sarantakis Law Group, Ltd. Ms. Sarantakis concentrates her practice in family law. In addition to her work in the courtroom, she is versed in alternative methods of dispute resolution as a mediator and Fellow of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois. She was recently recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star, named as one of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys Under 40 in Illinois by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and featured as a Fellow of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.
Ms. Sarantakis is active in the legal community and serves as Chair of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Children & the Law Committee, an elected Assembly member and Young Lawyers Division Member of the Illinois State Bar Association, and on the Board of Governors of the West Suburban Bar Association. She also serves as a Young Professionals Board Member of Illinois Legal Aid Online and as an Associate Board Member of the Lawyers Assistance Program of Illinois.
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