As you may know, Father’s Day is upon us. For those whose fathers are near and well, you may see the day as a kind reminder to call up dad and say hi, spend a few intentional hours together, or send a card. However, for those whose fathers are no longer with us, are estranged, or otherwise unavailable, the twenty-four hours of Father’s Day or the weeks and days adding up to the big day may be more difficult to navigate.
If you’re struggling, it may be helpful to consider that you can treat Father’s Day or any other parent-centered day as a way to celebrate any mentor in your life who has shown you kindness, direction, or love. Here are some ideas to help direct good energy outwards, to show compassion to yourself and those around you, and to avoid isolating if you are feeling pain.
Reflect on positive moments. What are some of your favorite memories that Father’s Day reminds you of? What are moments you can honestly say you are grateful for? That even if that person was far from a perfect father figure or role model maybe there were glimpses you can look back and appreciate. Celebrate those moments, this memory for it did help shape you. What are some meaningful lessons you’ve learned from the father figures in your life? Reflect creatively . If thinking about it feels too lonely, try writing a journal entry, drawing a simple comic about the positive moments, or even singing a song that reminds you of a father figure. Feel free to share your reflections with your friends or family members. It’s possible that others in your life who know or knew your father would also appreciate hearing about your favorite moments and share their own.
Send a father-figure in your life words of gratitude and kindness. Father figures in your life could be struggling today too, if they have lost a child or have lost their own fathers. Receiving a card on Father’s Day from someone they don’t expect could mean the world to them. Perhaps write to them about their role in your life, or the lessons they’ve taught you. Send them a song you think they would like, or just express that you are thankful for their presence in your life. Channeling your energy into compassion will bring you closer to them and yourself. If you don’t have the resources to write a physical card, here are two links to electronic card websites: 123 Greetings and Hallmark (Hallmark requires you to make an account, while 123 Greetings does not).
Reach out. If you struggle on Father’s Day, don’t be afraid to communicate to your family, friends, therapist, or other trusted ones that you might be needing more support. For many, Father’s Day can bring up complicated emotions about family. This can be a good opportunity to sort out pieces of your past with a family member or with a trusted professional. Remember to be gentle with yourself and know that your experience is likely shared by so many others.
Send a gift. To yourself, or others! Let someone know you’re thinking of them by sending them a special edition of their favorite book, a subscription to a movie streaming service, a gift certificate, flowers, or just a small trinket. That someone could also be you – if you think you’ll be struggling on Father’s Day, why not make yourself feel a little better by receiving a present in the mail? Remember the deceased by doing something on Father’s Day they would look upon as fun, tradition, or honorable. Often we find peace, joy, and gratitude in helping others when we are selves feel lost, hurt, or vulnerable.
Find a distraction. If you’re not in a place to reflect or feel deeply about something distressing, there’s no shame in guiding yourself away from those thoughts. Let a friend know you don’t want to talk about Father’s Day or anything related to it and spend a day with them. Tell your siblings you can’t talk about dad but you still want to be around them. Block or mute the words “Father’s Day” on Twitter. Go see a cute movie that has nothing to do with anything. It is completely okay to not celebrate Father’s Day in any regard if you do not want to. Distraction of any kind is good if your emotions are too raw.
No matter the presence of father figures in your life, Father’s Day can be a day to honor your needs and express and care for yourself honestly; especially if at times in your life you had to be your own dad. Be grateful for those that are there and were there. We hope these ideas will inspire you to feel supported on this day and to celebrate those in your life no matter how complicated or uncomplicated and to most importantly celebrate yourself for being true to your honest emotions, listening to yourself and what you need and doing it.
Make the most of the holiday in whichever way that suits you best.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there in the world biological, step, new, seasoned, remembered, honored, cherished, and chosen.
Written By: Clara Zornado