A MODERN FAMILY MOTHER’S DAY
Right now we are in parent season – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. This time of year can be tough for separated and divorced parents as they adapt to the new normal. But rather than being fraught with anxiety, maybe it can be a time of unity focused on the needs of the child(ren) thanks to a little creative thinking. With that in mind, I offer you a thoroughly Modern Family Mother’s Day story:
Modern Family Dad has been divorced from Modern Family Mom for about 10 years. After some initial acrimony they have been communicative and generally cooperative co-parents for their now-teenage daughter. They have shared custody of Darling Daughter and this year, for a variety of reasons, Darling Daughter is with Modern Family Dad and his Newish Girlfriend for Mother’s Day weekend.
Modern Family Dad relishes what time he has with Darling Daughter, but is really conflicted about finding a way for Darling Daughter to spend time with Modern Family Mom for Mother’s Day. Reluctant to give up any of his cherished time, especially the big Sunday morning breakfasts he traditionally cooks for Darling Daughter when they are together, he comes up with an idea and suggests it . . . a little hesitantly . . . to Newish Girlfriend.
What if Modern Family Dad and Newish Girlfriend host a brunch at their house for Modern Family Mom and Modern Family Step-Dad to celebrate Mother’s Day?
Newish Girlfriend, having previously met and pleasantly interacted with Modern Family Mom and Step-Dad, and valuing extended family relationships, thinks this is a fabulous idea and Modern Family Dad extends the invitation! Modern Family Mom accepts the invitation and while Darling Daughter declares the whole thing “weird” as teenagers are apt to do, the thoroughly Modern Family Mother’s Day Brunch is born. On Mother’s Day, Darling Daughter has ALL her parents present and all parents get to share time with Darling Daughter. It isn’t “weird” at all as Darling Daughter feared, but is a lovely meal shared by all.
When crafting a Parenting Plan with families, my clients often list the Parent Holidays as some of the most important holidays to discuss. They are usually the most discussed holidays in mediation, followed closely by Halloween, then the more traditional holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why are these Parent Holidays so high on everyone’s list in mediation? I think because these days, and the accompanying celebrations, are the very embodiment and recognition of parenting identity. Especially during a time of family transition, such as separation and divorce, I think my clients are eager to preserve their parenting roles even as so much else is changing. As a result, what I see is that most families agree on is some version of ‘Mother’s Day with the Mother and Father’s Day with the Father’ for their Parenting Plans. And that makes sense, right? Maybe, maybe not. My overriding message to all my clients is: (1) they know what is best for their family; (2) mediation is a place to be creative; (3) they should place the needs of the child(ren) above the needs of the adults.
The story above is not going to be a solution for everyone, but it was a creative solution for this family. I offer this Modern Family story as an example of out-of-the-box thinking that is possible when you stop thinking about the ‘shoulds’ and start thinking about what you want for your child(ren) and your family. Not world peace, but maybe peace for your family – and that’s enough.