Father’s Day is an example of when your children’s needs and your desires may be widely disparate. Being divorced, especially newly divorced, (or separated) the last thing you may want to do is celebrate his role as a father. However, children love celebrations of all kinds and look forward to them with great excitement. And they love their father. So you find yourself in the awkward position of supporting your child celebrating his/her father. Offering this support is important because:

  •       It teaches the child the importance of ritual and celebration.
  •       It teaches the child the joy of giving.
  •       It is one way we teach children how to express their feelings.
  •       It assures the child that you can support his ongoing relationship with his father.
  •       It models positive behavior.
  •       It says to the child, “I can support you and your needs, even if I don’t want to or disagree.”
  •       It reinforces for the child that the parents can work together.


That’s all fine, you say, I get it. But what am I supposed to do? On a day that was once reserved as a family day, you find yourself alone as the sadness creeps in around the edges.

If your own father is available, spend time focused on that relationship. If not, then consider spending Father’s Day with other “father-like figures” (a special uncle? A mentor? An elderly neighbor who is alone?). Of course, you can ignore it completely. Or you can do something to celebrate your own life.

Some years ago, one group of divorced women in their fifties and sixties, decided to celebrate Father’s Day in a unique way. Since their children were all grown they were not called upon to help with presents and visitation. Their own fathers had all passed away. And so these women rented a sailboat for the day, complete with a captain, packed lunch and drinks, and headed off for a glorious day on Long Island Sound. They used the day to celebrate themselves, their friendship and their new lives.

There are many times, especially if you are newly separated or divorced, when you may feel excluded from celebrations. With time the sting of these days will pass. Meanwhile, help your child prepare for Father’s Day. It gives you the opportunity to experience how it is possible to honor and respect your feelings and still be present for your child’s needs even if they differ from your own.



  1. Ellie on the 16. Jun, 2013 remarked #

    In my case, my parents divorced and I get my kids cards to give my dad who I think has been awful to my mom and to me and my brother. It is hard to find a card that I don’t feel like a hypocrite sending. But he is their grandfather and he is good to them.

    • Donna Ferber on the 16. Jun, 2013 remarked #

      You make a good point. Sometimes that pain can affect future generations. As difficult as it can be, you are teaching your children important values while not allowing your experience to mar their own.

  2. cj golden on the 16. Jun, 2013 remarked #

    Love the sailboat idea. But mostly I love anything that allows us to celebrate our own beings, our own importance, our own lives.

  3. Kathi on the 16. Jun, 2013 remarked #

    Beautiful and thoughtful essay….love the “sailing” solution! Even after all these years of being separated and then divorced I still miss those family celebrations…. So my ex and I have started including each other with our boys in these “family” moments…it works for us and most importantly we share In our sons .lives more frequently this way….and they in turn see that life moves on in unexpected ways….their parents can actually become friends once again and work together as a team for everyone’s benefit. …now that’s a “Happy Parent’s Day”!

    • Donna Ferber on the 16. Jun, 2013 remarked #

      Happy Parent’s Day! How great it would be if other couples could take the “high road”, work through their resentment and see the bigger picture!

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