Father’s Day began in 1910, when a daughter wanted to honor her father, who had raised six children alone after his wife died in childbirth. In 1972, Father’s Day became a permanent holiday signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
Today, Father’s Day can be fraught with many mixed emotions, but after a divorce it can be even more challenging. Fatherhood.org reports that about one in three children in America lives without their biological father in the home. This makes Father’s Day even more important, because it can serve to help strengthen those bonds.
In Tennessee, Parenting Plans outline where the children will spend their holidays, so fathers should be guaranteed Father’s Day, just like mothers would be guaranteed Mothers’ Day. Still, children and their parents may have a hard time with these holidays after a divorce, especially if the parents have a high-conflict relationship, if one parent fails to abide by the Parenting Plan, or if Father’s Day coincides with another important event, like a birthday. If the children are resistant or uncomfortable, it is your responsibility, as a parent, to make sure the day goes smoothly.
Creating new traditions might be best
When divorce breaks up a child’s family of origin, it is important for parents to find a way to create a new version of old traditions. If you, your spouse and your kids always went out for a pancake breakfast, but your kids are resisting the idea this year, change it to lunch or brunch. You keep the tradition of getting a meal alive, while changing it just enough that you acknowledge things are different.
Another way to revamp an old tradition is to get rid of gifts. If your children are small, it means your ex-spouse has to buy the present – which may or may not be a wise move – because your kids won’t have their own money. Even if your children are older, they may not know what to get for you if they do not see you that often. Make the day about spending time together, and start a new tradition of a day at a ballpark, or the aquarium, or even walking around the city.
Finally, we recognize that these tips apply to traditional couples; it is an entirely different experience for same-sex dads. Your Parenting Plan should outline how you will handle the holiday very clearly. If you divorced amicably, perhaps you can spend the day together, and keep up the traditions you developed over time. If not, however, you could consider splitting the weekend; one of you have Saturday, and one of you has Sunday, so that you both get to spend time with your children. Whether you change which day the children spend with each one of you is entirely up to you, but should be included in your Plan from the start.
Quick tips for a smooth Father’s Day
Father’s Day can be an opportunity for co-parents who are not getting along to try to have peaceful interactions. Here are a few tips to help make Father’s Day a great one:
- If you need to revise the schedule for any reason, do so long before the day.
- Try being willing to compromise for the sake of a good relationship between your child and your co-parent.
- Communicate clearly and respectfully.
- Focus on making positive memories for your child.
As an adult who is dealing with co-parenting drama, Father’s Day can trigger a lot of strong emotions. Finding a way to set those emotions aside and focusing on making sure that your child has a good day.
At Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC, our focus is guiding our clients through the challenging process of divorce and child custody and in helping them get what they need to begin a new chapter in life. We invite you to call us today at 615-454-9899, or contact us to reserve your consultation with an experienced Nashville divorce attorney.