The painful side of Father’s Day


I recently had lunch with a friend that bluntly stated, “I HATE Father’s Day.”


My friend, like many others I know, didn’t grow up with a kind, loving father. So, for her, Father’s Day is a reminder of the Hallmark type dad she didn’t have. If you think about it, all the cards on the rack for Father’s Day say really sweet things, praising wonderful fathers. Here are a few samples of card headers I saw in the store this year:

To the world’s best dad…

To my wonderful father…

My dad, my hero…

Then, you open them and find gushy words about how he set such a wonderful example for you, how he’s always there for you, how he is your standard for all other men…


How sad for people like my friend to see all these cards in the store and know that none of them apply to the man she calls, dad. Buying one of these cards would not only be a lie, but would also twist the knife in an already deep wound.


What’s even sadder for my friend, is that the failures of her dad have affected the way she views God. She’s told me many times over the years that she has a hard time looking at God as her Father. Because, to her, the word father represents someone who can’t be trusted, someone who will use and abuse, someone who will scorn, shame and do anything but love.


This Father’s Day, I pray that fathers everywhere will consider the great impact they have on their children.


This Father’s Day, I pray we will all be mindful of the people around us that may have a hard time placing the word “Happy” before Father’s Day.


I have men in my life who desperately want to be fathers, who long for handmade construction paper hearts scribbled with the words, “I love you daddy!”


I have friends who never knew their fathers; who are haunted by questions like, “Why did he leave?” “Why didn’t he want me?” or “Why didn’t he live long enough to be remembered?”


I know men who have lost a child and feel the void even stronger on this particular day; when there’s one less Father’s Day wish, an empty seat at the celebration.


And, let’s not forget the dad who will sit alone on Father’s Day, regretting the pain he’s caused his children; knowing he will not be celebrated.


We must remember also that Father’s Day can be painful for those whose fathers are worthy of those sappy Hallmark cards.


I was blessed with a kind, loving, Godly man as an earthly father. I felt lucky to know him as a person, not just as his daughter. Even so, Father’s Day is terribly sad for me. My dad passed away two days after Father’s Day; this year will be the ninth anniversary of his death.


Because I’m a mother, Father’s Day comes with its distractions. I make sure my husband is celebrated for the wonderful father that he is. I celebrate the life of my father-in-law and thank God that he’s still here for us to enjoy. Yet, I miss my dad…terribly.


For the first few years after my dad died, I bought him a Father’s Day card and wrote in it all the things he had missed that year. Obviously, this was for me, not for him, but it gave me some sense of connection and healing. Now, I simply remember him on what would have been his “special day”. I remember his contagious laugh, his big smile, his love for the outdoors and his devotion to his family and to the Word of God.


So, this Father’s Day, I will celebrate my husband; I will be thankful for my father-in-law, I will miss my dad like crazy and, I’ll say a prayer for the many people who will be hurting on this special day.


But, ultimately, I pray that my brothers and sisters will see the goodness and love in their Heavenly Father and not allow their view of Him to be skewed by the failures of their earthly dads.


Matthew 7:9-11 says, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”


God, our father, wants us to understand that His gifts are far more complete, full, lavish and sincere than even the best gifts our fathers give us here on earth.


This year, while we buy cards that will end up in the trash; while we spend money on gifts that are, let’s face it, unnecessary…while we smile, laugh, praise, pretend, remember, cry or push through the pain…let’s take a moment during this man-made holiday and celebrate the ultimate Father that does not hurt, spoil or disappoint; the Father that will never ignore, abandon or die, the Father whose perfect love endures forever.



1 thought on “The painful side of Father’s Day

  1. Great article and so full of wisdom! I fall into the same category as your friend, but I’ve been blessed with a wonderful husband who is a loving father to our children. I was struck by the line, “And, let’s not forget the dad who will sit alone on Father’s Day, regretting the pain he’s caused his children; knowing he will not be celebrated.” It was a reminder to pray for my father who may be regretting his choices as he gets older.
    God’s blessings to you!
    Joelle Taylor

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