Father's Day celebrations can be conflicting occasions in this culture of single parenting and multiple families, as noted by Christian Science Monitor correspondent Lisa Suhay, who said on June 14 that this holiday is not always a pleasant celebration when dad is absent. She's right, and with the Federal Agency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (Childstats.gov) reporting that 24 percent of children lived only with their mothers as of 2012, there are a number of children who may not even see their fathers on this holiday.
Then there are those kids who have the added dilemma of having a father and a step father, so they may feel torn about who to spend their time with, somewhat worried about offending the other male parental figure. And then there are those children who may have been abused by their fathers, and they don't need to be placed in jeopardy by being forced to see them just because it is a holiday.
So what can single mother's do on Father's Day to help soften any anger or depression a child may feel around this holiday when their father is not around (or he doesn't need to be for the safety of the child)? Some of the same things one would do if he were, actually. For example, going out to eat a healthy breakfast together is a great idea. It starts the day off with the right food for better health--something the First Lady is even trying to underscore in our school systems, and it allows mom and child the time to talk about what this day means to them, over a great meal.
With children's health and weight constantly a topic of discussion in the news, mom can use this holiday as the perfect time to be physically active with her son or daughter, too. So since dad isn't around to throw the football or ride bikes with junior, she can choose to do that or engage him in a sport or physical exercise that she likes and feels confident playing. It will increase those feel good endorphins and thus help better the mood of a child who may be feeling down, and it will allow those children who are angry at their fathers to work off that frustration in a healthy way.
Great ideas for activities other than dining and playing sports abound in most every city around the country, including in Atlanta, where the Atlanta Magazine points out that the Atlanta Botanical Garden is hosting the Imaginary Worlds mosaiculture exhibit, for those bigger-than-life plant lovers in the family. One of the large displays is a giant pink unicorn, but there are lots of other ones to capture the imagination of any child, like the giant gorillas (what young boy would pass up a chance to see those?).
In Suhay's Christian Science Monitor online piece, she recommends finding a replacement father figure or mentor to bring into the picture to help ease the life of a child without a father figure at home. And while that is excellent advice on a day-to-day basis all year long, it really isn't feasible to pluck a great dad out of the wind at the last minute just for the holiday being celebrated on Sunday. And she isn't really recommending you do so.
Instead, single moms like Sandra Bullock can play the father's role on this particular Sunday, since she has been playing it all year long. And then after dad's day is over, a single mom can look for a great male role model for her child to cultivate a friendship with--for more than just one day in June, if she wants to. But don't underestimate the possibility that your child might just be happy to have you as their companion on Father's Day, instead of a replacement mentor, like little four-year-old Louis appeared to be with his famous mom this Sunday.