Dr Amanda Gummer Says... Mum
Dr. Amanda Gummer has dedicated her life to working with children and families in a variety of settings since 1993. As well as running a family support charity in London and teaching children...
Father's Day - Without Dad
Father's Day can be a wonderful time not only to show you care and are grateful for the dads in your life but to also help children create wonderful memories to grow up with and even eventually share with their own children.
But what about children who don't have a dad in their lives or won't be spending the big day with their father? Dr Gummer offers advice on how families in this situation can still get something special out of the day.
Acknowledge the absence
The most important thing is to acknowledge the loss – children will know that it’s Father’s Day as the whole world seems to be gearing up to it and will definitely feel the absence. Even if there’s a good reason and they’re fine with the situation most of the time, Father’s Day can still be tough and should not be ignored.
If their father is a big part of the child’s life and the absence is only temporary, you could arrange to celebrate it on a different day, and just plan fun activities for you and the children on the real Father’s Day to keep them busy.
If the loss is more permanent, make sure you are emotionally available to your children in the run up to the day and especially on the day. This means that you should give yourself time to deal with any emotions you have around the absence so that you are able to respond appropriately to the children when they need you.
Allow children to talk about their father and try and represent him positively and realistically. It’s important for children to have a father figure as a positive role model in their lives and if their father isn’t there in person, he can still be portrayed as a positive role model. But be careful about over-doing it - children with absent fathers can often fantasise about their dads who then take on an almost super-hero quality. This can make it very hard for mums to compete and can lead to children having unrealistic expectations of other male role models in their lives.
Look for other positive male role models
Depending on your circumstances, you could make the day about a grandfather, uncle or other male adult who the children can give the gift of being a father for a day. This can be a light-hearted way of showing appreciation for other men in the children’s lives and help take the focus of the day away from painful memories or a sense of loss.
Will you be celebrating Father’s Day without your child’s or your own father? How do you tackle the tricky subject in your own family?