Many children will be looking forward to some special time with Dads, Stepdads and Granddads on Father’s Day, though it is also a day that can bring challenges. In One Family, children are at the centre of our work and we support parents to help children to have contact with both parents where possible, unless it is not safe for a child. It can, of course, often be challenging for separated parents to develop good communication in order to implement a shared parenting plan, but the positive outcomes for children are very much worth the effort that parents put in.
Successfully sharing parenting can seem difficult, especially if parents are experiencing hurt or anger. When two parents can be there for their child, we ask parents to allow each other the opportunity to parent. Children need so much love and time; they can never have too much. There is room in your child’s life for both of you. Developing a shared parenting plan may be challenging, but when you do figure it out and see how your child flourishes, you will know it is worth the effort.
For Dads parenting alone, there may not be anyone to help your child make a card or shop for a little gift. Or even to acknowledge the day at all. Why not acknowledge it for yourself? Own it for you. You don’t need someone else to tell you how great a parent you are. You do everything from braiding hair, to playing football, to helping with homework, to planning your family’s weekly meals. Acknowledge, embrace and celebrate your achievements, even through the tough times. Allow yourself a Father’s Day treat, and plan to celebrate the day with your child.
If your child’s Father has chosen not to be present in their life, or is otherwise absent, you may worry that your child is excluded from the celebrations. Or that your child may feel a little sad, and so might you. Acknowledge this for them; it is okay to feel this way. Maybe it is a day you can talk about it together with your child. Share memories, and talk with them about all the wonderful people that are in their life. Ask them what they would like to do if Dad was there, and then plan something fun to do together with your child on the day.
This year, whatever your circumstances, perhaps you can plan a day out with your child on Father’s Day? Plan for quality time together. Plan a picnic, pitch a tent in the garden, have a barbeque. Invite some friends over and have your own soccer tournament. Children just love being busy and having fun, it doesn’t have to cost much. Make some plans today to have fun and create memories, and if it is not possible to celebrate with your child this Father’s Day, perhaps you can plan to share it on a different day in the future.
Whatever you do this Father’s Day, it is a day that is about children. On Father’s Day, we encourage thought about what your child needs from you. What can you do now to support your child through life, whether this means being physically present in your child’s life on a regular basis, consideration of the financial support a child requires to help them to have what they need to grow, develop and succeed in life, or working to develop a shared parenting plan.
Father’s Day is about valuing children’s presence in our society, and looking at what we can offer them. So Dads, Mums, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Stepparents, Guardians, Friends – everyone is important in a child’s life and we all can help them to grow, to feel loved, and to know they are valued.
This article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
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