Separation and estrangement from your family can be tough any day of the year, and Father’s Day may bring a whole new/heightened slew of emotions to the surface. As parenting from a distance becomes more common in modern families, you may be away from your family on Father’s Day for any number of reasons.
(Please note that these tips assume you have at least some contact with your children. We recognise that is unfortunately not the case for all separated men. Our MensLine Australia counsellors are available if you need to talk 1300 78 99 78.)
If you find that special occasions cause stress for you and your family, consider taking a step back rather than adding fuel to the fire. It may be simpler to maintain the routine you already have for this particular day and treat it like any other Sunday. We all know that kids thrive on routine, so maintaining the status quo could be the best thing for your children and your relationship with them.
If you don’t get to see your kids and are worried about how you’ll feel, surround yourself with people, activities and distractions such as:
- Head along to a sporting match (local footy, rugby etc.) – with or without some mates!
- Drive out or catch the bus to a new location and go for a hike: it’s active, and connecting with nature is good for your mental health.
- If your Dad, an uncle or an older friend is nearby and potentially spending the day alone, too, head over for a chat or a game of chess/cards.
- Tackle that project you’ve been avoiding: clean out the shed, fix the fence, organise the linen press.
- Organise a group of mates for a game of backyard cricket.
- Get experimental in the kitchen. How great would it be to rock up to work with some treats for everyone? Cooking and baking are great ways to use your hands and create something that just so happens to taste good!
- Find some free local music and go check it out. Maybe it’s a style of music you’ve never enjoyed before: give something new a try!
Placing too much weight on one day and its importance can result in disappointment for you and others involved. While it’s easier said than done for some, consider playing things down on Father’s Day to make sure that you’re not overwhelmed. Maintain that regular, everyday consistency of contact with your kids instead, or take their lead on how to connect.
Ways to Keep in Touch
If you’re getting in touch via phone or online video/chat, consider preparing topics ahead of time to talk about with your kids:
- What have you been up to?
- How is their school going?
- What sports have they been playing?
- Who are their friends etc.
Put together some memories of your times together:
- Stories about your time together
- Funny things they’ve said to you.
Plan a time to catch up in the future: maybe Father’s Day itself won’t work out this year, but any day is a great day when you’re connecting with other people.