Father’s Day means many things for different men, and can come with associated feelings of love, connection, and caring. But sometimes, it can also come with grief, loss and regret. Relationships Australia NSW Practice Specialist Andrew King explores the importance of fatherhood, and how we can celebrate it in all forms on Father’s Day – and beyond.
Father’s Day should be a day of celebrating the most important relationships in men’s lives. Often the connection men have with their children is very significant, but unfortunately many men rarely talk about the importance of their family.
But in recent years, Australian men have become more vocal about their role in fathering, and the value they place on connection with family, particularly their children.
Many men acknowledge that they want to father differently from their own dads, and the birth of a child is now a wake-up call for many men. It’s an opportunity for them to review the choices they are making in life, and provides the motivation to develop stronger relationships.
How to celebrate Father’s Day if you have contact or live with your children
Consider making your special relationship with your kids more of a priority. They need you far more than you realise, and perhaps more than they show – especially if they’re used to you being too busy. It offers great play time and nourishment for you too.
Find things you all enjoy doing, which you all look forward to and want to do together. The great outdoors can be a great place to play with your kids. Go cycling or enjoy a bushwalk. Play a game of cricket in the park. Just hang out, talk with your children and be curious about who they are and what they value. Try camping or a picnic in the backyard.
You could also watch a favourite show together, colour in or play board games. Contact grandparents on a video call and talk across the generations about being a kid and a dad, or how kids and parents have changed. It can be a great way to acknowledge generations of fathering. If that isn’t possible, showing old photos and storytelling can engage children.
Think of how you would like your children to describe you to others – “my dad is playful, fun, a good listener, caring, thoughtful” – as you make memories that you can share forever.
As your kids get older or move out of home, they may have less time – enjoy this quality time while it lasts.
Celebrating Father’s Day if you won’t see your children in-person
Consider creating a video they can watch now or in the future or write a card or letter they can keep. Talk about your love for them, how often you think of them, what it means to be their dad and what you wish for them. This is to reassure them of your connection, dedication and their importance. If there are reasons you can’t see them, work within those boundaries.
It’s important for you to be able to show respect for their mother, as it will have an impact on your relationship with your child. As part of this, avoid or manage any negative communication and conflict that may arise. The best outcomes for children occur when their parents are amicable and respectful.
If you have a video call arranged on Father’s Day, do something fun, like playing a game together. Read a story with them or tell them about your day. Listen to what they say and respond without asking too many questions, except to draw out their conversation. Share stories about your childhood, and the things you enjoyed at their age.