A Note About Fathers Day
As childless women we dread the knowledge that it is nearing Mother’s Day. We avoid certain shops and conversations – but what about our childless spouses and Father’s Day?
Because men tend to be less vocal about their childlessness we sometimes forget that Father’s Day can be a very difficult holiday for them. If they dont attend church they are still surrounded by greeting cards, TV commercials, and family celebrations. If they do attend church they have to, listen to the Primary children sing, and most receive a little treat or gift. Because they’re men they don’t leave Sacrament Meeting in tears or avoid church all together – they just cope.
This Father’s Day we want the men in our lives to know that we love them, we understand them, and we support them. They might not want to stay up until all hours chatting about their feelings, but we know they have a hole in their heart – just like we do.
I asked in the Childless Mormon Support Group on Facebook for the women to ask their spouses what they think about Father’s Day or what they’d like others to know.
- “You don’t need to have children to understand and empathize in church callings and home teaching duties.”
- “It is very hard to hear things like, ‘But, you’d make a great dad!’”
- “It is painful to know you’ll never be able to teach your child to play soccer, go camping, go shooting, go fishing, learn to cook, etc.”
- “Its hard not to be able to give my parents a grandchild”
- “Its hard to not be able to pass on your name.”
And one email I received said:
“I decided I would talk about why I find Father’s Day tough. There are several reasons why I do: 1 – Not being able to be a Father and 2 – Growing up in a home where the father was not the best example or role model. Would I like to be a father – I would totally love it. I have come to terms that it will never be so and I am happy with the decision that we have made in this regard. Still, it doesn’t make it fun for me to sit and listen to the Primary kids practising the songs for Father’s Day. It doesn’t make it fun to see the Dads all get a little gift and have to also stand up and get something – I feel it is more of a pity gift than anything. I may be reading more into this than needs be. It’s just how I feel. I have come to realise that it’s ok to feel like this sometimes and it is ok to miss church on Father’s Day because of it.”
Ultimately I think Childless men and women are more a like then different in their feelings about these holidays – they are difficult.
So what can we do to support the childless men we love and know?
Let them feel it – let them feel their feelings without fear of embarrassment.
Let them grieve if needed. If that means talking about it – great, if it means not talking about it – great too! Just be there.
Help them to see they are still men even if they don’t have children and like women, have the potential to raise, support, and inspire the children in their lives.
Don’t expect that they will be “fine” at church on Father’s Day – they support us in our need to miss church on occasion, be mindful of them needing the same thing.
Love them without restriction! They are good men. Men who try their best. Men who support their wives. You cant get much better than that – children or not.
So spare a moment this Father’s Day to think of those men who would love to be a Father, but cant. My hope is that we can be more inclusive of good men – not just Fathers.
Here are some more resources for childless men:
Childlessness and Men
Childless Men on Father’s Day
The Forgotten Men
For the childless and parentless this Father’s Day (and those who love them)
Father’s Day Blues
A WIFE’S LETTER TO HER CHILDLESS HUSBAND ON FATHER’S DAY