The Single Mom’s Guide to Father’s Day
People often assume that single moms are still parenting with a father figure in the picture; a co-parenting partner who pulls their weight, takes equal time with the kids, and would never let a Father’s Day go by without seeing their little ones.
Unfortunately, not all situations look like that. Plenty of single mothers are parenting completely solo, either by choice or circumstance. And while a fatherless family can be perfectly happy, stable, and whole, certain days have a way of highlighting that absence and reminding kids of what they don’t have.
Father’s Day is obviously one of those days.
Here’s what single moms need to know to help themselves, and their kids, through a day that may not always be easy to celebrate.
Be kind to yourself
It often feels like guilt is a requirement of motherhood. We all experience it, even those of us raising kids in two-parent homes. It always feels like we’re not doing quite enough. Like we’re missing something. Like our kids are missing out.
This can be especially true for single moms. When our kids look up at us with tears in their eyes, wanting to know why they don’t have a daddy like other children they know… the guilt of that moment can feel suffocating.
Here’s where you need to go easy on yourself and remember that kids are resilient. The latest research has found that kids of single moms are turning out just fine. No matter what society tells you, there is no one version of a perfect family. Kids don’t need a two-parent home to thrive. They need love, stability, and grace—now try to extend those to yourself as well.
Honor whoever their father may be
Every child has a father, whether that person is in the picture or not. Perhaps you are a single mom by choice, and your child’s father is nothing more than a number on a sperm donation form—they are still part of the equation that helped to create your little love.
Maybe the dad is a deadbeat, someone who made your life more complicated than it needed to be and then ducked out when you needed them most. That man still gave you the gift of your baby.
No matter how you feel about who he may be, and no matter how justified you are in those feelings—your child sees him as half of who he or she is. So it’s important to help them understand the good in whatever ways you can, even if you have no idea what that good might be.
Help your child to make a card for their father this Father’s Day. Ask them to write about the things they love or imagine they would have liked about their dad. You don’t have to give this to the actual person—your kiddo and you can agree on a place to tuck it away. The act of helping them honor their father opens the door for your child to come to you in the future with any questions or feelings.
The goal is to emphasize and celebrate your family, no matter how untraditional that family may be.
Teach them that father figures don’t always have to be fathers
Now, here’s where things get more fun. Just because your child doesn’t have a father in the picture doesn’t mean they don’t have any men worth celebrating. Teach your child that Father’s Day isn’t just about honoring the men who contributed genetic material. It’s about honoring the men who have stepped up and been there for them all along.
Maybe that’s a papa or an uncle. A family friend or a coach. Talk to your child about the important men in their lives and then help them to find a way to celebrate those men. That could be a card, a call, or a dinner out in the week leading up to Father’s Day. How you celebrate doesn’t matter so much as reminding your child of the amazing men they still have in their lives.
Make it a family day
Start a tradition of turning Father’s Day into Family Day. Make a special breakfast, play games together, get outside, and enjoy the sun on a family walk and picnic in the shade. Maybe you could see a movie, or hit up the local arcade. Your child won’t care so much about what you do, just so long as you do it together.
The goal is to emphasize and celebrate your family, no matter how untraditional that family may be. Turn this into a day of joy rather than one of sadness and regret.
Encourage your kid(s) to talk about what’s missing
By acknowledging Father’s Day, you are showing your child that this is a subject that doesn’t have to be off-limits. And that’s huge for them! To know they can share with you whatever it is they might be feeling about the father who isn’t there.
Be prepared for them to test that by bringing up some of the harder questions this Father’s Day. Don’t push them to do so, but leave the door open and set yourself up for success by thinking about how you might answer those questions in a truthful, age-appropriate way.
The best thing you can do for your child is to teach them there is nothing they ever have to hide from you. Not even that they may sometimes wish they had a father or that they miss the father who was never there.
Remember kids often wish for things like unicorns and fairies too. What they dream of having has nothing to do with what you’re capable of giving. It’s normal for kids to miss what isn’t there. But you can help to soften that blow by being the Mama they know they can turn to for anything.