Mother's Day in Divorce

Mother’s Day can be a big fat joke for many moms.

There are usually a slew of complaints, from “I have to do all the work” to “my kids just whine and cry all day.”

But what I hear over and over again in the community of divorced moms I work with is that their exes don’t do a good job of helping them feel honored as the mother of their children, and that it’s a big, giant bummer.

Some of my clients’ exes have their kids on Mother’s Day weekend, and don’t even had them call to say, “Happy Mother’s Day.” Others have exes who are so busy buying flowers for their new wives that they actually forget to honor the actual biological mother of their children. Still others get a cursory text halfway through the day saying “Happy Mother’s Day,” which leaves them feeling kind of empty and like an afterthought.

No mom should feel like an afterthought on Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in divorce can be fraught with emotion, and in many cases, deep conflict. But what if we all just agreed, on these two days a year, to put it all aside and honor the one person who helped us bring a life into the world?

Why should we do this? Because it sends some very important messages to our kids.

Here are some of them:

  1. We may be divorced, but we respect each other and our history - which includes making you.

  2. I will always support—and facilitate—your love of your mom/dad. I will never make you feel as if you have to choose between us.

  3. I will never view your love for your mom/dad as a betrayal of me.

  4. We may be divorced, but I still think your mom/dad is super-cool and a great other parent.

  5. I want you to love your mom/dad as much as your amazing heart will hold because s/he is the only one you’ve got.

Here are some ideas to help you help your children celebrate the other parent on these important days:

  1. Help your child pick out a bouquet of flowers just for their mom/dad and deliver them in person.

  2. Help your children each make a card saying why they love their mom/dad.

  3. Ask your ex what they’d like to do for Mother’s/Father’s Day - do they want the kids for the day, for a few hours, or do they want a full day off? Facilitate the day to honor his or her wishes.

  4. Help your children make a memory book of some of the highlights of the past year with their mom/dad, and include any pictures you can get your hands on.

  5. If it’s not too much of a stretch, write your ex a special card, just from you, outlining some of the ways you are grateful for their partnership, and let your kids read it.

  6. Have a family brunch so your children can see that no matter what, you’re still a family.

Even through conflict, it is possible to honor the other parent, whether they have historically honored you or not. Be the bigger person, and make the first move. Your kids will thank you later—and so might your ex!

Kate Anthony