Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can be a nice time for the family to do something special together. But not every child has both a mother and a father present in their lives. This can be a difficult time in school or crèche when they’re making cards or gifts to bring home to their mum or dad, or talking about their families with their class.
There are many reasons for a child to have an absent parent in their life. Couples might have gone their separate ways or one parent might have sadly passed away. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that your relationship with your child’s parent can influence how they perceive them throughout their life. It’s important to be open, honest and direct about them as much as possible – especially leading up to Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.
Don’t ignore the holiday
There’s usually quite a bit of hype leading up to Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, so much so that it’s hard to ignore! At the very least it will cause your child to think about their identity and history, so don’t sweep it under the rug. Acknowledge it and talk about it, see what their opinion is on the holiday.
There are many different types of families
In this day and age it’s never been more true that not all families are made up of one mother, one father and children. And (hopefully) this is covered in the school or crèche that your little one is attending. At around three years of age, children stop being ego-centric and start to pay more attention to the world around them. They see other children’s mums and dads collect them from playschool and remember these facts. They may ask questions like ‘Billy has two mums’ or why ‘Molly has no mummy but just a daddy’ or ‘why do I have just a mummy/daddy when Tommy has both?’. At this stage it’s good to be honest and open with your child and explain that although there are differences between families, all families are special.
If you have a good relationship with your ex…
…it’s likely that your child’s mum or dad will want to take them out for the special day. In this case, help your child get ready by making a card, or buying a little gift for them to give their mummy or daddy on the day. Make sure to encourage their input on this, and take the time out to do something extra special just for you, after all when you’re with your child you play mum and dad to them!
… but try to keep your own feelings out of it
No doubt you’re mature about the whole thing and have dealt with separation in a healthy way. But it’s still important to keep your feelings about your relationship, separate from the relationship between your ex and your child. You don’t want your child copying your behaviour or attitude to their mum or dad, no matter how things ended between you. Keep everything as open, positive and honest as possible.
If Dad was never in the picture
Again it’s important to approach things in a positive manner, no matter what the situation is. But there’s no point lying to your child. If the person wasn’t a good parent or not even a good person, there’s no need to hide this from your child, but take care of how you say it.
- Acknowledge that your child has a father/mother and talk about them in an honest, fact based manner.
- Approaching it in a positive way will diminish negativity your child may feel at the absence of him in their lives.
If your partner has passed away
This is sad, and can be a painful reminder of loss in your family’s life each year. Although it’s difficult, you should try and look at the day as a celebration of their lives, and how they were as a mother or father. You could go to their favourite restaurant, or cook their favourite meal and share some nice memories of them together.