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Gary Direnfeld

It’s Father’s Day & You’re Separated

I can only tell you that I hope Mother’s Day went well because sometimes what goes around, comes around. If it was the case that Mother’s Day wasn’t successfully managed between the parents, I would have some trepidation about Father’s Day.

However, look at all of this from the eyes of the child. As much as we think these celebrations are about the parents, as I have written elsewhere, even these celebrations are about the kids.

These holidays celebrating parents teach kids to think beyond themselves. It teaches them to be aware of the role of parents and to be thankful or fulfilling those roles in the child’s life. By so doing, it sows the seeds of empathy – the ability to consider the experience of the other.

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To add, we must remember that from a child’s perspective, they feel half of either parent, whether the parents are heterosexual or identify as gay, lesbian, trans queer or two-spirit. The kids look up and say, I am half of each and therefore if I cannot celebrate both halves, then does that mean part of me is not of value, is not worth celebrating. This of course sows the roots of problematic self-esteem.

So whatever has gone on or is going on, we want all parents, separated of not and regardless of how they identify, to appreciate that enabling an easy transfer between them, allowing the kids to enjoy all their relationships, which on Father’s Day may also include grandparents (both sides) is in the interest of the child well being and emotional development.

Of course fitting what may require several visits into one day isn’t always practical, so we hope that parents discuss this day and weekend in advance to accommodate what may be multiple relationships for the child. In view of a concern about a parent or grandparent, then talk openly and devise a plan that takes into account those concerns.

Let the words, facilitate, enable and enjoy guide you.

Whatever comes around, let it come with the children out front, first and foremost, able to take pride and joy in their full range of relationships.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 350 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.

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