Today and Mother’s Day tend to be a happy day for people where they can honor their father and mother. However, it is not a happy day for everyone. Some people their father or mother may have died when they were children. For some people their father or mother may have left them when they were children. Therefore, today may not be a happy day. Also for children who were raised in foster care all their lives, today also may not be a happy day.
While this may not be a happy day for adults, it also can be a very difficult day for children too. Many children have fathers and mothers who have passed away or left the family and are not involved with them any longer. Seeing the television commercials or having other family members tell them that it still can be a good day can be difficult for them.
I work with many of these children in psychotherapy. Many don’t express their feeling, but they tend to deal with the emotional pain by acting out. They may be very oppositional during the week and today as away to express their feelings. Other children may isolate and not want to be involved with anything having to do with Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.
I have had parents ask me how they should handle Father’s Day or Mother’s Day when a parent has passed away or left the family. They understand that it is a difficult day, but they do not know what to do in order to help their children.
My recommendation is let the child cope with the day in the way they need. Try not to make an issue about the day. The other thing I recommend to a parent is to talk to their child. Acknowledge that Father’s Day or Mother’s Day may be difficult but it is just one day. They may have a rough day today but tomorrow is another day. I also recommend to parents is to ask the child if there is anything they may want to do. A child may want to release a ballon with a note, they may want to visit the cemetery or they may want to do something for an uncle or aunt or another male or female role model in their life. If they do have an idea, go with what they want to do. If they don’t have an idea, let them know that is okay. If they come up with an idea then you can do it. If they do not have an idea, then remind them it’s just one day that you all need to get through and tomorrow will be better.
Hopefully this will help parents understand the issues their children may be dealing with on Father’s Day and make it easier for everyone.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.