Celebrating Father’s Day can be lots of fun. But this special day can also bring back painful memories of a father who has passed on before us. Children who have lost their father may find the day especially stressful. Even as adults, we all have a feeling of loneliness if we’ve lost our own fathers.
It’s important to recognize that some people will bear the pain and disappointment of not being able to share the day with a father. Even children who are raised in a family where the father is not present, or grandparents who are raising grandchildren, will run into questions as children grow.
Celebrating the day
If you find yourself in a situation with children who won’t have a father in their lives on this Father’s Day, consider these ways to celebrate the day:
- Encourage children to express their feelings and talk about times they remember with their father if they are old enough. Remember the good times and let them share openly. Don’t judge or try to change their memories but allow them to express them. Talk about your own happy memories of times with their father and let them know how much those times mean to you today.
- If a child’s father is deceased, it can be especially painful for children depending on their ages. This may be a good year to start a memorable Father’s Day to celebrate the times when they were alive. Plant a tree, make a donation to a charitable cause, or visit a children’s home or assisted living facility. Do something to help others in honor of a deceased father and make it a memorable occasion in good ways.
- Invite male figures to share the day if appropriate. Sometimes children turn to other family members or close friends as father figures. Allow them to participate on this day if possible. But don’t tell the child that this person takes the place of their father because no one can. Explain that their father would want them to have a strong relationship with another male figure to help them as they grow.
- If the father is simply not in the picture anymore because of divorce, abandonment, incarceration, or other circumstances, that can be difficult for everyone. But once again, focus on the positive aspects of fathers and celebrate the day by doing something for others. Explain to children that this is a day to recognize that there are thousands of fathers in the world who deserve a special day and encourage them to do something for others. Remind them how much they are loved and how grateful you are to have them in your life.
- If you’re a grandparent raising grandchildren as your own, it is very possible that a grandfather is seen as the father by the child. It is also possible that there is no grandfather present. Either way, remind the child that they are special on this day and every other day. Explain that their mother and father created them and blessed you by allowing you to raise them. Show them love but allow them to express their feelings too.
- Turn Father’s Day into a day when children are celebrated as much as their fathers. Father’s Day can be a time to take children out for fun activities, picnics, sporting events, and visits with friends. Let them know that their father would want them to enjoy this day as much as possible and make it fun and special.
Father’s Day is a very special day for many people. It can also be a sad day for others. But the day is what you make of it. Try to make it positive and do something for others. Focus on the important things occurring today and celebrate life.