Father’s Day without the kids can be challenging when you’re separated or going through a divorce, particularly if you aren’t seeing your children on the day.
Perhaps you don’t see your children as much as you would like at the best of times, or maybe communication between you and their mother has broken down, and you are in the middle of a court process that will ultimately decide how your children divide their time.
Or maybe it just isn’t your scheduled time with the children, and you haven’t been able to negotiate a swap.
If this is you, then the media hype surrounding Father’s Day might seem overwhelming, and it can be easy to lose yourself in feeling low or angry, concentrating on what you have lost and the “what if” questions that might be swirling around your mind.
I am here to reassure you that you do have a choice. You can make a conscious decision to do something differently, to choose how you react, to reframe your thinking – and your choices will have a significant impact on how you feel.
Focus on what you CAN do
Instead of focusing on what you can’t do or no longer have, shift your focus onto what you CAN do. While it’s true that Father’s Day this year might be different, and not the same as before, you can change your approach and focus.
Ask yourself how you could make it better for you. Can you Facetime with them, wherever they are? Could you arrange a special trip out with them for the next time you see them? Could you write them each a card? Brainstorm a list of choices and decide to do one of them.
On the day itself, shift your focus and do something that YOU enjoy and that you know helps you to feel good. Arrange to see a friend, go for a long run or cycle – whatever it is that feeds your soul.
Focus on the time you DO have
If your children aren’t with you this Father’s Day, focus on the time you DO have with them, rather than dwelling on this one day that you don’t. Choose a different day to celebrate with them. Do something special with them next time you see them – it may be easier to book on a different date, and you may have more choice.
If you haven’t already, I suggest you create a list together of things you would all love to do, places you would like to go, people, you would like to see. Keep it on your fridge and cross them off as and when you do them. Save these new memories by taking photos and putting them up on a memories board.
Your children will take their cue from you. If you are angry and resentful, they are likely to feel conflicted and stressed. When you are upbeat and talk about what you can do next time you’re together, they will take your lead.
Tell the story differently
Every time you talk about Father’s Day, notice the words you use, and how they make you feel. The words you use, and the story you tell can have a big effect on your feelings. Every time you talk about how terrible you feel, how sad or angry you are, you associate into those feelings all over again.
Instead, try talking about what you are going to do instead, and notice how that feels different. Notice also how people start to respond differently to you – instead of feeling sorry for you, they may start to tell you how impressed they are, how proud they are of the way you are dealing with this.
Choose to stay off social media
Whatever you do, don’t indulge in a little of what I can “torture by social media” – don’t go onto your Facebook or Instagram feed to see what all your Dad friends are doing, the fun they’re having. Take a day, or better still the whole weekend, off your social media accounts.
If you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same outcome – so if it isn’t working, do something else!
It is your choices that will make the difference. When you perhaps feel that everything else is out of your control, your choices and decisions are 100% within your power to make.
When you choose to shift your focus, tell your story differently, and protect yourself from social media, you are making active choices to do something differently – and you will get a different outcome.
Article by Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching
Claire is one of the UK’s first accredited specialist Divorce Coaches, a former lawyer, and Advanced NLP Practitioner. You can get in touch with Claire at www.claireblackcoaching.com or call 07722 007528
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If you would like any advice on a family law issue, please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers here.
If you are struggling to deal with Father’s Day with the kids after a divorce or separation, the following websites have some useful tools and advice.
Families need Fathers
Hear other father’s experiences
Men’s Advice Line
This article was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.