Father’s Day can be an extremely difficult one for many children. Unfortunately, thousands of children will not be with their father this Father’s Day due to many factors including divorce, death or service in the armed forces. As a result, many children don’t have the opportunity for a traditional Father’s Day.
I’d like to offer some thoughts about the importance of this day from the perspective of both a father and a practicing divorce lawyer for 30 years:
- Take the High Road. If it’s within your power to help a child spend some time or even talk with his or her father on Father’s Day, take the high road and make a special effort to make it happen. Across the country, thousands of children and fathers don’t have the opportunity to share their feelings with each other.
- Are You Too Busy to See Your Children? If you happen to be a father who lives with, or has access, to your children, realize how blessed you are to have children and don’t waste the opportunity to tell them how much you love them and how important they are to you! Thousands of fathers without such an opportunity would envy being in your position. No matter how busy you are, share some time and love with them. If not for you, understand that it is important for them.
- Be Sensitive To Your Child’s Feelings About Father’s Day. This is an excellent occasion to try to reinforce the importance fathers play in the child’s life. Talk with your children and listen carefully. Create an environment where your child can express his or her feelings freely.
- Put Yourself In Your Child’s Shoes. Make sure that you are acting in a manner that is in your child’s best interests. Set aside any remaining conflict from the divorce. Your child has the right to grow up healthy and to love each parent.
- Is There a New “Father Figure” in the Picture? If there’s someone new in the child’s life who is a father figure, consider whether it’s appropriate to celebrate him also. Analyze the nature of the relationship from your child’s perspective. Again, listen to your child’s feelings regarding that person. Give the child freedom to accept love and show appreciation for another adult who is a positive role model to the child.
- Dad’s in the Military and Not Home. If dad is away at war, make the effort to have a Father’s Day celebration and honor him not only for being a wonderful loving father, but also for his love of our country. If possible join with other extended family members to celebrate their dad insuring that your children realize his importance to the family as well as his commitment to the country. Make it a fun, happy event.
Remember that children who have strong loving relationships with both their mother and father grow up the healthiest. Absent some very unusual facts, every parent has the responsibility to help their children to have positive feelings about both their mother and father. Your child’s emotional development needs to be priority number one. Perhaps Sigmund Freud said it best long ago: “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” Bite your tongue if necessary and empower your child to have the freedom to have a happy and meaningful Father’s Day.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.