Father’s Day is on the 18th June this year (2017), this can be difficult for separated couples to manage and possibly distressing for the children if the situation isn’t handled well. Here are some top tips to keep everyone happy and ensure in particular that the children don’t suffer:
From Dad’s Point of View
Planning – It may be that you only see your children every other weekend; this is the most common arrangement between separated parents. Sometimes there can be a considerable geographical distance between yourself and your children. If it will not be possible for you to see the children in person then be sure to arrange a time to call them or have a video call with them.
Whatever your relationship with your children’s mother, you need to ensure that making the arrangements is as easy as possible and as amicable as possible. The last thing your children need is for there to be open, heated arguments about arrangements for Father’s day if it isn’t your Sunday to have them.
What to do on Father’s Day with your kids – This will depend very much on their ages and what your usual weekend activities are like with them. Although they will have made or bought you cards or gifts, they will value doing something fun with you that you can all enjoy together. Talk to them before hand about what they might enjoy doing. If money is tight you don’t have to break the bank to have fun. Here are some ideas:
Picnic in the park – This doesn’t have to be boring. Take a ball or other game that you can all play together. Take a BBQ and make burgers or hot dogs. This may not be something that teenagers will enjoy as much so adapt the plan to make it more appealing to them.
Visit to the museum – free entrance to many museums make this an affordable way to spend some time (whilst being educational!). You could go somewhere for lunch afterwards that the kids will enjoy.
Make pizza together – If your children are visiting you for lunch, why not make pizza together, this can be messy fun and a good way to involve younger children. The reward of homemade pizza afterwards will always go down well.
Camping weekend – If you have the kids for the whole weekend and the weather looks good, why not go camping. It is something that everyone will enjoy, even moody teenagers! Whilst camping everyone has to play a part in pitching tents, cooking and tidying up, this can be a great way to bond with children. Teens that are usually glued to phones or ipads can be encouraged to put them away for a while. There is nothing like a good camp fire and toasting marshmallows in the evening to soften away anxiety or animosity.
Trampolining – Trampoline parks are springing up everywhere. Although not that cheap, kids of all ages love them, even teens! There is the potential at these to have real fun whilst expending some energy with the kids.
Cinema – this can be a good option if it’s raining, although it won’t engage you all in joint physical activity. It will be shared experience though so you can all talk about the film afterwards. This might not be such a good plan if relationships are strained and you don’t see your children very often.
Whatever activity you choose, make it fun and memorable, and if you’re still stuck for ideas, read our blog post on some amazing free things you can do in Bristol at summer time.
From Mum’s point of View
Plan ahead – See which parent the children are supposed to be with on that day, if they will be with their father then the weekend routine needn’t be disrupted. If they are with you, then you need to open a dialogue with your ex-partner to make an arrangement that will suit both of you without there being any stressful complications or arguing about it.
Gifts and cards – The children (usually no matter what age), will want to make something for their Dad, or perhaps buy a present. As the mother, you need to make this as easy for them as possible so they don’t become either worried about asking you or worried it won’t happen. You will need to put your feelings aside on this especially if your relationship with the children’s father is strained. Focus on the fact that you are doing this for your children and their wellbeing.
Time with Dad – The time that children spend with their Dad will vary after separation depending on arrangements and circumstances, but it is healthy (in most cases) for this time to be encouraged and respected.
Father’s day can potentially be painful for dads who no longer live with their children. Obstructing the time the children spend with their Dad at any time is not healthy for the kids mentally. We have written in the past about parental alienation and the negative effects this can have on the children. Don’t burden children with the emotional difficulties of your relationship with their father.
It may be however, that as the Mother you have an unwilling ex-partner who doesn’t give his time gladly to the children, in which case you are fighting the opposite battle. In this case, it is still important to maintain a positive attitude to the situation and try to make arrangements that will make the children feel happy about it. This could be a short meeting which will allow them to spend a bit of time and give any gifts they have made or bought.
Remember that when the children return to you, encourage them with positive words and enthusiasm when they speak about the time they have spent with Dad.
Can Mediation Help?
The key to dealing with arrangements for children between separated parents is communication, compromise and empathy. If you struggle to communicate well with your ex-partner you may find mediation a very useful way to reach resolution whilst also minimising the stress placed on the children. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you then please call us on 0117 924 3880.