Father's Day - Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

How to have a happy Father’s Day after a divorce

Father’s Day is one of those dates in the calendar which people treat in very different ways, but no matter how Father’s Day was celebrated in the past, it can become a very different occasion when a mum and a dad are separated or divorced.

While some dads are content with a simple card and a “Happy Father’s Day” and others prefer a special day out, after a divorce it’s important to discuss how you’ll approach Father’s Day in future if you’re to avoid some unexpected problems.

Thankfully, with a bit of forward planning, it’s easy for Fathers Day to go smoothly, even if mum and dad aren’t seeing eye to eye. Lots of parents I’ve helped through divorces and separations are still celebrating Father’s Day in ways that suit the whole family, but they’ve had to work together to pull it off.

Unless there is a good reason why one parent shouldn’t spend a day or part of a day with the child, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day work best when the other parent is supportive of their child spending time with their mum or dad and building a good relationship with them.

How to plan your first single Father’s Day

If it’s your first Father’s Day after a family breakdown, then the first thing I’d encourage you to remember is that you have to be flexible. Father’s Day will have to be celebrated differently than it was in the past and next year’s might be different again. In many cases, it might take a couple of years for you work out a plan that works for everyone and the plan will have to adapt as the children get older and their priorities, desires and expectations shift.

Father's Day after divorce - Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

Where things become a bit more complicated is if Father’s Day occurs on a day when mum is supposed to have care of the children. In this situation, both parties should be open to negotiation and compromise so they can agree a solution.

If Father’s Day falls on a weekend when mum has the children, the best way forward might be for the two to get in touch with each other at least a week in advance to work out a way forward. It could mean one contact day is swapped for another, it could mean mum has two weekends or two sundays in a row to compensate, it could mean that Father’s Day is celebrated on another day, or it could mean mum agrees to let dad have the child every Father’s Day as long as she gets to have them every Mother’s Day.

On Father’s Day, the child comes first

The important point is to be child focused in the decisions that are made because although you may be divorced or separated, for the children, you are still mum and dad.

Of course, all of this needs to have the stamp of approval from the children themselves. Obviously, the extent to which the child should make a choice depends on their age and their ability to make that kind of decision, but ultimately, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are about a parent’s relationship with their children, so their happiness and wellbeing should come first.

The parents will have to take the time to tell their children what could be arranged and what they’ve agreed could happen and, to an extent they should leave the choice with them. If the children really don’t want to spend the whole day with their dad, fine. If they really don’t want to see him at all, fine. If they really want to spend more time with him than had been agreed, then it’s up to both parents to see if you can reasonably work out a way to make that happen, or you’ll have to let them down gently.

As with many things surrounding divorce and separation, the best way forward involves communication, compromise and understanding. If both parents remember that, there should be no reason why your children can’t enjoy a Father’s Day that suits everyone.

Father's Day after divorce Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels


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