NOTE: Prefer listening to reading? Listen now to the Reconnection Club Podcast audio adaptation of this article. It’s Episode #36: Four Steps to a Better Mothers Day.
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Mothers Day and Fathers Day are just around the corner, causing anticipation, hope and dread for estranged parents everywhere.
Most of those parents won’t hear a peep from their estranged children, but a few will. Not knowing which group you fall into can be nerve-wracking.
Here are some simple ways to make sure that Mothers and Fathers Days (along with your birthday and other special days) will pass by as painlessly as possible.
1. Take control of your experience
Many moms and dads see the day approaching on the calendar, and start to wonder whether their estranged child will acknowledge it. They tell themselves not to get their hopes up, but secretly long for a breakthrough. They think about what it will mean if their child does or doesn’t contact them.
If this is you, realize that this passive approach will ensure that you have no power over how the day goes for you. Your happiness will be entirely in the hands of your child. … How does that feel?
To improve your experience, change your attitude: Think about the upcoming holiday as a day that you control. No, you can’t dictate what your child does. But you have 100% control over how you approach the day.
You can create a good day for yourself or a bad one, depending on how you prepare for it. And speaking of that…
2. PLAN for the day
Surviving is a good start, but it’s not much of a plan. If you know you’re going to find the day difficult, decide ahead of time on your coping strategy and tactics. Ask yourself what would make the day pleasant for you:
What do you want to do?
Where do you want to do it?
With whom do you want to spend time?
Do you want to distract yourself all day, or would you like to put aside part of the day to think about your absent child?
What do you want to be able to say when the day is over?
Plan all your activities, including meals in or out, and make the necessary preparations for your special day. Buy the tickets, reserve time with friends, and do any necessary shopping ahead of time.
3. Celebrate yourself
Just because your child doesn’t call, doesn’t mean you don’t get to celebrate the fact that you’re a mother or a father. Parenting is a demanding job, and you deserve a special day to acknowledge and reward yourself.
Try writing your goals and dreams in a journal, spending time with people who love and appreciate you, going shopping for a new golf glove or the latest best-seller, enjoying a day of rest, a day of health, or a day with your most favorite people. Rather than just getting though it, see if you can make the day a good one.
Here are a few more ideas to get you started —
- Schedule a video chat with a distant friend
- Plan a day trip to a favorite or new place
- Gather books, puzzles, ingredients, craft supplies, etc. if you plan to stay in
- Organize a group outing
- Dress well and look your best all day
- Engage in a healthy activity
- Do something for yourself that you don’t normally have time to do
- Write a letter to yourself expressing compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, or whatever you need.
Remember, this is your day to spend as you wish. Show yourself a good time.
4. Don’t give power to your child’s silence
If your child doesn’t reach out to you this Mothers or Fathers Day, it doesn’t mean he never wants to see you again, that she hates you, or even that she thinks you were a terrible parent. He is not attempting to punish you. It’s more that it’s awkward for him …
The sentiments children are “supposed” to express on these days are unequivocal gratitude, appreciation and affection. But because of the estrangement, their feelings are more complicated than that. So they say nothing instead.
Don’t give your child the power to determine your sense of self-worth or your emotional well-being. Not on Mothers or Fathers Day, not on any day of the year. Your child doesn’t want that responsibility, nor is it good for you if they have it.
Keep your power where it belongs: With you.
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