“Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation” Psalm 68:5 (NRSV).
Father’s Day is swiftly approaching, and many are thinking of creative ways to honor dad in this season. However, what if daddy is gone? The Annie E. Casey Foundation reported that in 2012, 67 percent of African-American children lived in single parent homes. I am certain the statistics include men raising children alone. But, how do you help your children celebrate Father’s Day if daddy is not around?
Here are some ways I’ve come up with to help you.
Honor an influential father in the family, church or community.
Last year in the nursery of my church, the children made Father’s Day cards. One little boy cried out, “I don’t have a father!” His statement broke my heart. We didn’t want him to feel excluded, so we encouraged him to make a card for his uncle.
I am going to help my children celebrate Father’s Day by honoring an influential male in their lives. This year, we’re going to honor their Uncle Warren, my husband’s older brother. We’re going to do an art project and present it to him. Since Father’s Day is so close to the anniversary of my husband’s death, June 21st, we’re going to save the memorial cards for that date.
You can choose an influential father in your family, church or community who has helped your children and honor him. This will help the children know that although their biological father is not present, God has not left them without positive male role models.
Visit your father’s resting place
If you’re a widow with children or if your father is deceased, you can celebrate Father’s Day by holding a small memorial gathering at his resting place each year. Your children can write letters and place them on his grave site. They can also write letters, place them in bottles and release them into a body of water. You can also have your children write messages to their father on balloons and release them at his resting place. The balloons will symbolize the letters reaching heaven.
Plant a tree or participate in a community service project
If your husband is deceased, you can also help your children celebrate Father’s Day by planting a tree in his honor or by completing a service project. You can make Father’s Day a day of service and remembrance to carry on your husband’s legacy.
Reflect on the love of God
If your children’s father is not present because he is unwilling to help or if he is not emotionally or psychologically healthy, you can spend the day reminding your children how much God loves them. You can have a small Bible study to remind your children that God is our Heavenly Father and will always be present.
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you” John 14:18 (NRSV).
This reflective exercise is also beneficial if your husband is deceased. You can read scriptures from the Bible as a family about how God defends the fatherless and orphaned. You can designate one of those scriptures to each child or a characteristic of God and make T-shirts for the children to wear. This will let them know they are not alone.
If your husband or father is gone, Father’s Day can evoke many negative emotions. However, if we focus on the love of Jesus, he will give us the strength to make it through the day and will remind us that we have a Heavenly Father who will never leave nor forsake us.
How do you help your children celebrate Father’s Day as a single mother or widowed mother?