Not every child is fortunate to have their dad active and involved in their daily lives. There are many who have limited to no contact. The reasons for their absence do not have to be sinister; they may be travelling, unwell, have court orders pertaining to the situation or may have never been a part of their lives. According to the ABS, more than one in seven families are headed by a sole female/mother figure(1) and one in four children see their non-primary parent less than once a year or never, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies(2). Despite the trend of children of divorce primarily living with their mother, Father’s Day is difficult to completely ignore and meeting societal expectations by recognising the day reinforces that there are many great men who love, support and are interested in the wellbeing of the child.
If the child’s father isn’t around on Father’s Day, creating your own tradition for that day becomes of greater importance. No doubt there are amazing men already in your child’s life and you can always recognise and be grateful for on Father’s Day. You may consider their grandfather, uncle, neighbour, friend’s husband, GP, dentist and teachers.
To these people who don’t want to make a big fuss on Father’s Day but do want to recognise a positive male, special made-with-love, thought-filled suggestions include:
You know your child better than anyone else. Some children may be super sensitive about Father’s Day. You may wish to start a conversation about how Father’s Day is approaching even though their father doesn’t live with them and offer “do you want to mark the occasion for a special male in our lives?” If they don’t respond or if they aren’t enthusiastic, you could offer “would you like to do something fun? how about we go to the beach, the aquarium, zoo or have a picnic?” Create a positive, uplifting experience and memory.
Often school asks young children to recount their Father’s Day, share what they did or create a drawing. By creating a fun memory, you are giving your child something to boast about that they did on that special day, either as a little family without a male figure or recognising Father’s Day with a special male.
(1) https://aifs.gov.au/facts-and-figures/types-families-australia/types-families-australia-source-data#017 (2) https://aifs.gov.au/facts-and-figures/parent-child-contact-after-separation/parent-child-contact-after-separation-source-data#face