FATHER’S DAY…I HAVE NO DAD
A regular day, a day without significance for my older sister and me.
The ads for gifts were ignored, the search for the perfect tie unimportant, the drawing of cards meaningless.
What was there to celebrate? We had no father living in our home, nor did we even know who our father was.
Granted, we lived with our grandfather for my first 8 years, and when I was 11 my mother remarried, providing us with a stepfather. Neither man brought the significance of Father’s Day into our lives—I don’t recall my grandparents celebrating holidays except for Christmas, and my mother didn’t encourage our celebrating Father’s Day with our stepfather—with whom we didn’t have a positive relationship anyway.
I don’t recall feeling left out or feeling pangs of pain over the situation. It was what it was.
Father’s Day didn’t hold any significance for me until my husband and I had our first child, a daughter named Sandy. Then less than two years later we had our son, Nolan. Now Father’s Day became a day to celebrate.
There are many children like us, children who have no father to honor on Father’s Day. This can be because their father was never in their life, their father died, or their parents divorced.
Some of these children dread Father’s Day, feeling great pain due to their lack of a father. Others handle the situation well or with stoicism.
Father’s Day is upon us. How can children without a father (or with a minimal father) celebrate this day?
I searched the Internet and there is a dearth of information on this subject. One of the best suggestions I found was for the child to find a father-substitute, a meaningful male role model, in his/her life, and honor him. It could be a grandfather, uncle, family friend… However, as in my life, there a meaningful male may not be present in the child’s life.
None of us would be here without a father. Understanding our paternal line can offer insights as to who we are as a person. If the child knows the identity or more of the missing father s/he might attempt to discover stories of his life or begin to trace his genealogy.
If the child knows what the father valued and he can delve into that interest:
- his field of work: perhaps he was a science teacher and the child could investigate a science interest. If a veteran, investigate the arm of military service; if a chef, a favorite dish could be prepared…
- his hobbies: if fishing, the child could spend time during the day fishing or looking up the characteristics of bass; if music, the child could listen to the style of music or investigate the musical instrument; if baseball, the child could study the famous players, play a game with his friends, or attend a game.
If the child knows nothing about his father (as was my case) the child might plant a tree, design a garden stepping stone, or create a small garden to honor the man who at least gave him life.
If his father is deceased, the child could collect/earn money to donate to a charity related to the cause of death or a charity the father was interested in.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to talk to your children about their feelings on Father’s Day. Be open to hearing their side. Encourage the child to draw a picture, or write a letter to their father, expressing their feelings.
If you have any ideas to contribute for other children who are celebrating Father’s Day without a father I invite you to share them in the comment box at the end of this post.
CLOSING NOTE: When I was in my thirties, with children in early elementary school, I made contact with my father. We exchanged a few letters, occasionally talked on the phone, and met twice in person. It wasn’t much, but as I came to know him some it made Father’s Day somewhat more meaningful.