(www.TheSingleMomClub.com) – Father’s Day is coming but for millions of moms – divorced, single, domestic violence survivors – it is not exactly a day of celebration.
As much as marketers like Best Buy, Sears and others want the world to feel all warm and fuzzy, there is a list of reasons why Father’s Day isn’t always circled on the family calendar. That’s why it is refreshing that Hallmark has a line of cards for Single Moms on Father’s Day.
Without question, there are scores of good – and even some really great – dads out there. Some dads like Mocha Dad blogger Fred Goodall even dedicate their whole lives to fatherhood. What’s not to love about these dads. But there is another view, however unpopular.
What about the moms who survived domestic violence at dad’s hands? How does she handle Father’s Day? What about the mom who can barely feed her child because daddy is working “off the books” to avoid paying child support? What about kids of moms who have been falsely accused of child neglect or abuse by a disgruntled ex or landlord who is owed money? In New York City alone, the local CPS agency, ACS, admits over 60% of all calls to their abuse hotline are falsely filed and the cases are unfounded. The children spend years – or months if they are lucky – in foster care over false allegations. Statistics show that many false reports are made by abusers trying to find or harass their victims under the guise of exercising their parental rights.
According to websites like FAMproject.blog.com and ALittleLynched.com, moms and activists have been fighting to bring awareness to this growing trend of allowing abusers to use family court as a weapon against good mothers.
To make Father’s Day more manageable, here are a few tips that every mom should read:
1) Married moms should avoid “shaming” their single mom friends. Being in a dadless home doesn’t mean their lives are any less happy. Many single moms are happier than married ones. Married moms often put on brave faces to hide their own pain and shame of being in a less than perfect marriage. Compassion is the key.
2) Single moms should avoid “borrowing a dad” on Father’s Day. Talk to your child ahead of the big day – and afterwards – to gauge their feelings, needs and wants. Develop a positive male role model plan accordingly, but the replacement dad model isn’t a full-proof way to achieve peace.
3) Do not bad-mouth dad in front of the children, even if he is a jerk. If things ended badly, simple answers like, “He is working on solving some of his problems” or “I am sure he loves you but sometimes the best way to show love is to stay away.” If there was domestic violence and there are legitimate safety issues, you must keep your kids on alert. Try not to scare them but safety must come first.
4) Find positive traits that you liked about him and see in your children and share those stories with the children. Consider saying, “You know, your dad and I weren’t always in a challenging place. I remember one time when he….” or “Before things changed, your dad used to make me laugh so hard when he….”
5) Let your children take the lead. If they want to write letters, draw a picture, look at old photos or movies. Let them. Just make sure to have some wine on hand for you when they go to sleep. Go to dad’s social media page and grab a few current photos to show them, if you think it’s appropriate. If they ask you tough questions, answer them honestly. Follow their lead.
6) If dad has other children or another family or even recently came out as gay, help your children know it is not their fault he is not around. Do whatever you can to make sure Father’s Day Monday is not the beginning a bad phase for you and your kids. Most importantly allow them to feel whatever they feel. Your local library also has good books to help you cope.
7. Take lots of photos of you and your children together, frame them and hang around the house to remind them you are a family which deserves respect.
8) Don’t let him live rent-free in your head. Hating him won’t help you pay the light bill or put food on the table. Anger will shorten your life and raise your blood pressure. Who needs the drama? Besides, it’s unlikely that he will even notice how stressed you are so do your best to remember to take care of you.
9) Practice Self-Care. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Little things matter. Find a TV show you can watch with one of your mommy friends after the kids are in bed. Talk with each other during commercials. Having some “mommy time” will help you offset the stress of parenthood.
1o) Be grateful. It’s not that you’re saying, “Thanks for your sperm” but let’s face it: The kids wouldn’t be here without him. So, be grateful for your family. Cherish memories and try to establish a “Family Day.” Many restaurants have Family Night with free face painting, balloons, cheap food, etc. Most children’s museums have a “Free Night” on the first Thursday, Friday or Saturday of every month. Find free events for you and your children to do together. Pack a picnic lunch, grab a good movie and have a picnic in the living room. Whatever you choose to do, go out of your way to enjoy your time together. Living well is truly the best revenge!
BONUS TIP: If you really have to do so, consider finding a pro bono attorney to help you file child support, medical support or educational support. Poverty is increased when children don’t get child support so do it for the kids, not for yourself. But remember that you deserve to spend some money on yourself. A happy mom makes happy kids.