Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in divorce can be fraught with emotion, and in many cases, deep conflict. As a coach for single moms, I heard many complaints on Mother’s Day, from “I had to do all the work” to “my kids were whining and crying all day.” But I think the bigger issue is that many moms felt that their exes didn’t do a good job of helping them feel honored.
With Father’s Day right around the corner, many dads might be about to feel the same way, even if they don’t wear it on their sleeves.
What if– on these two days a year– we put aside our conflicts and honor the person we once cared enough about to have a baby with?
Why? Because it sends some very important messages to our kids. Here are some of them:
- We may be divorced, but we respect each other and our common history – which includes having you.
- I will always support – and facilitate – your love of your mom/dad. I will never make you feel as if you have to choose between us.
- I will never view your love for your mom/dad as a betrayal of me.
- We may be divorced and disagree about many things, but the one thing we always agree upon how much we love you. And, I want you to love your mom/dad as much as your amazing heart will hold because s/he is the only one you’ve got.
- I will always try to act with integrity by keeping my side of the street clean– because you’re worth it.
Here are some ideas to help you help your children celebrate the other parent on these important days:
- Help your child pick out a bouquet of flowers just for their mom/dad and deliver them in person.
- Help your children each make a card saying why they love their mom/dad.
- Ask your ex what they’d like to do for Mother’s/Father’s Day – do they want the kids for the day, for a few hours, or do they want a full day off? Facilitate the day to honor his or her wishes.
- Help your children make a memory book of some of the highlights of the past year with their mom/dad, and include any pictures you can get your hands on. Alternately, make it a tradition to make the same gift every year– a picture frame with a current picture of your child, or your ex’s favorite cookies.
- If it’s not too much of a stretch, write your ex a special card, just from you, outlining some of the ways you are grateful for their partnership, and let your kids read it.
Even though we may experience conflict, it is important to honor the other parent, whether they have historically honored us or not. We may not be able to change the fact that they don’t honor our special day, but acting generously can have the effect of diminishing future conflicts — plus it makes your kids feel good. Be the bigger person, and make the first move. Your kids will thank you later – and so might your ex.