Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be among the most unexpectedly difficult holidays to deal with after separation or divorce. Many divorcing parents don’t include them in their custody agreement and parenting plan or simply stipulate that each parent will get to spend “their” holiday with their kids.
That’s a start. However, if you’re a parent who always helped your kids celebrate their other parent’s holiday and expected the same in return, you could be disappointed once you and your co-parent are no longer together.
If your kids are old enough to plan something (even breakfast in bed) and buy or make gifts themselves, you may still get the day you’ve always looked forward to. If they’re still very young and can’t do much on their own, you may have to make your own celebration with the kids.
Help your kids celebrate
These holidays may be important to your kids even if they aren’t to you and/or your co-parent. Here are a few basic things you can do:
- Help your kids with gifts: Whether they need you to pick out, pay for and wrap the gift or simply need a ride to the mall, put your own feelings aside and give them whatever assistance they need.
- Let them celebrate other moms and dads in their life: If they want to include grandparents, godparents or others with a small gift, card or phone call, let them do that – even if it means buying a card for an in-law who despises you.
- Let them enjoy your co-parent’s holiday: Even if it means they spend an extra day with your co-parent, don’t make them feel guilty about it. As with any time they enjoy with their other parent, they should feel free to tell you about it and show you pictures without worrying about your reaction.
What if your co-parent doesn’t reciprocate?
With Mother’s Day over and Father’s Day coming up, what if your ex did nothing on your day? Remember that you’re helping your kids celebrate. Assist them in the way you wish your ex had done, and don’t let your kids feel bad that they didn’t do the same for you.
If you haven’t included these days in your custody agreement and your ex isn’t willing to make the accommodation in your current schedule, you may want to consider modifying it before next year rolls around.