Facing Father’s Day as a separated parent – 1st September 2017

Some Thoughts for Separated Dads on Father’s Day.

Regardless of your individual circumstances, significant days such as Father’s Day can be difficult for separated dads.  Our feelings and reactions as a dad who may not see his children, or who may have to share the care of his children with their mother, on Father’s Day can quickly become negative if we let them.  A little preparation prior to Father’s Day can make a big difference in helping separated dads not only get through the day but in enjoying it as well.

So, depending on your circumstances this Father’s Day, here are a few tips in helping to plan for the day.

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For those dads who may not be able to see their kids on Father’s Day you may consider the following:

  • Prepare yourself mentally – a major part of being without your kids on Father’s Day and getting through it has to do with preparation.  As far as you can, predict what thoughts and feelings you may have on Father’s Day and prepare an ‘escape route’ if that is useful.  This can take the form of planning to be busy with enjoyable activities on the day – think about engaging distracting activities you could plan and fill your day with those.
  • If possible plan to telephone or Skype your kids and plan this with the kids beforehand so they are prepared.  Depending on ages of your kids and their interests there are a range of activities and games that can be shared over Skype and similar technologies.  Again, depending on their ages, you may plan a story to tell them or prepare a list of things to talk about – they will appreciate your special interest in them and what’s happening in their lives.
  • Write a special Father’s Day letter or email to your kids. Tell them how much you love them and about your best memories with them. Talk about your hopes for the future for them and how committed you are to your relationship with them.  Even though you can’t be together, you can still share your feelings with them.  If you have more than one child write to each individually so that they can feel special.

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 If you will see your kids part of the day the following may help:

  • Have a plan for the day – plan for the time with the kids as well as for the time without them.  For the time with the kids, plan activities that will allow you maximum interaction to make the most of any limited time you have: don’t just sit down in front of the tv or go to a movie.  For that part of the day when you are not with the kids, plan some things to do on your own that are enjoyable and distracting.

Whatever your situation if you are a separated father on Father’s Day, it can take an emotional and mental toll so remember:

  • Plan ahead – this is by far the most important thing a dad can do to make sure you get the most of your time with the kids.  Alternately, planning the day if you won’t be seeing your kids will give you some strategies to ‘get through it’ in good shape.
  • Use technology where you can to help you have contact with your kids on Father’s Day and other days as well.

And don’t forget to:

  • Listen to your self-talk – be alert to signs of self-pity or hopelessness and be prepared to act on these signals to change the self-talk
  • Be prepared to talk to others about your concerns, including speaking with a professional (counsellor or psychologist) if you feel that would be of benefit
  • Be clear about where you have choices and where you don’t, and don’t get stuck ruminating over things you can’t change
  • Commit to looking after yourself – both on Father’s Day and for the longer-term
  • Think about getting fit – being physically fit can really help how we think and feel about things
  • Go easy on the alcohol and/or drugs – they are not the answer
  • Eat well – maintaining a healthy diet benefits us both physically and mentally
  • And remember to speak with your GP if you have concerns about your physical or mental health