As Fathers’ Day approaches, it is quite common practice, especially in early education, to make Fathers’ Day cards and even gifts. Sadly, not all children have a dad around. Their dad may have died, and it could be their first Fathers’ Day without their dad. Their parents may have divorced, and their dad might have moved away and lost touch. They may be in foster care and not have built up enough of a relationship with their foster father to feel comfortable with giving a card. 
Father's Day without a dad

10 tips to support children without a dad 

1. Don’t ignore the situation. Ignoring what has happened to the child may result in them feeling isolated and even more sad than they may have felt already. 
 
2. Instead, ask them if they would like to participate. This acknowledges their loss and will help them to feel in control of the decision. 
 
3. They may want to make a card and gift to take to their dad’s grave, or they may wish to post it if their dad has moved away. 
 
4. They may wish to give a card to another man in their lives, such as a grandfather. 
 
5. They may not wish to be in the classroom when other children are making their cards and gifts, and this is ok, too. 
 
6. You could ask them if they’d like to create a memory book instead, or for younger children they might like to draw a happy memory of their dad. 
 
7. Don’t be afraid of asking them how they feel. 
 
8. Listen to what they say without interruption. 
 
9. Reassure them that what they’re feeling is perfectly normal and natural. 
 
10. Remind them that even though it feels like Fathers’ Day is everywhere, it’s another day that will pass, and to think about how they could do something to turn it into a positive day. 
 
Above all, think of yourself as a heart with ears. Listening will be the most important factor here. 

Helping Children with Loss 

Loss is a normal part of life. As teachers, school leaders and staff who support children, it's imperative that we have the tools to comfort children and help them through losses of any kind. Our Helping Children with Loss programme provides those tools. Visit our Schools page to learn more or contact us to host one of our training programmes for a group of staff at your school. 

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About the Author 
Maria Bailey
Maria Bailey is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist and looks after media relations for Grief Recovery UK. She has spent her career working in public relations. Maria now lives by the seaside in Devon with her family and dog, and is a school governor and preschool chairman. 
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