So, for most of us, Father’s Day is intrinsically linked to making a card for our dad at school.
Flowers were on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards were inevitably tie theme.
So, I was surprised when teachers in my Education course advocated the removal of these commemorative days from the curriculum. Not every child has a mother and a father, they stated. It is hurtful to these children in their unique life circumstance. Clearly, these teachers felt removing these traditions was being sensitive to these children’s needs.
My mother was a hard working single mother.
So, I was a child who grew up without a father.
Cultural traditions form a valuable foundation in society. Encouraging children to honour their parents, even with a simple card handmade in school, fosters appreciation for their parents and heritage.
Hung up with the ubiquitous magnet on the fridge or placed on a table, these cards identify a child’s family. These traditions provide a sense of continuity and belonging.
Even religious holidays like Christmas are honoured culturally by non-Christians because celebrating this traditional day bonds family in a special way.
When time to make a Father’s Day card arrived, I never suggested to my teacher that there was no point, as I had no father to give one to at home. Nor did I experience hushed whispers or children feeling sorry for me. I was well- loved by a parent.
Each year, I made my mother her unique Father’s Day card, without the tie theme.
Each year, a child in my class, who’d lost her father to cancer early in life, created a card for him expressing how much she missed him. This girl did not object to making him a Father’s Day card. She still had her father in her heart, just as we all do even when a loved one has passed away.
We both belonged in the community of those who loved and honoured their parents.
Teachers create and model compassion for their students. As these cultural days are in turn celebrated, teachers can embrace these moments to teach how everyone has a unique family heritage. Sheltering children removes this opportunity to teach a vital life skill of sensitivity to another’s life circumstances.
Life situations need appropriate life skills to handle them. What better way to encourage cultural acceptance of this uniqueness then in continuing our cultural traditions in our schools.
Certainly, I did wish my father was part of my childhood.
But, the cultural and curriculum tradition of Father’s Day caused me to handle my life reality, in my own way.
For me, it became another opportunity to express love to my mother, and my thanks. I wasn’t ashamed that I lived in a single parent family; even back when it was considered almost scandalous, I only had admiration for my mother.
My mother deserved both her Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards. In later years, she teased me that she even preferred her Father’s Day card; it was extra special. In the innocence of my childhood, perhaps I understood that card needed just a bit more effort and love put into it.