Father's Day & Kids Who Have Lost Their Dad

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I just got an email from a children’s ministry leader asking this question. I thought it was something worth talking about here on the blog. I will offer some advice, but I also want to hear what you would say. Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Here is the question:

With Father’s Day approaching, I have several kids who lost their father to cancer about 1 year ago. How do I talk about fathers without hurting them more . Please any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

How To Help Hurting Kids At Father’s Day

This is obviously a very painful and hard situation for those families. But this kind of loss is not something that can be ignored or avoided. The larger questions of grief counseling also comes into play. Here are my suggestions.

1. Talk With The Mother About Your Father’s Day Plans

Communication can help, especially in knowing where the child is emotionally about the situation. Some kids deal very well with the loss, at least until they hit middle school. So, it’s a good idea to talk with their mom. Just tell her what you have planned and ask if there is anything she would suggest.
If appropriate, take the pastor and make a visit to the family the week before Father’s Day. This can be a great chance to help them move forward.

2. Acknowledge The Family’s Loss

If your church is small, or if the loss was felt by the whole congregation, this might be something for the pastor to address before the whole congregation. Sharing the grief with the church family is biblical and a simple way to show love. Just make sure there are no surprises for the family.

3. Consider All The Options

One mark of a good teacher is knowing the life situation of the learners. This does not mean to ignore father’s day, but to consider all options for the day. Use your best judgment, God has placed you into this situation and chosen you as his minister of mercy. Here are a few possible options. Chose one that seems to your context best and definitely talk with your pastor first:

  • Ignore the holiday. This one is extreme, but it should be on the table.
  • Focus on the fatherhood of God, especially for kids who don’t have a father in their homes. Make allowance for kids who don’t have a father in the home. This might mean avoiding specific applications or expanding the lesson to include grandfathers.
  • Directly celebrate the father who passed away, especially if you knew the man and have the mother’s support. Point the kids to the hope of the resurrection, the Gospel shows us that death will not win forever.

For more help, read our article on comforting a bereaved child. We’ve also posted ideas for Mother’s Day and children who have lost their mom.

What Do You Suggest?

Please share your ideas below in the comment section. You can also share your story if you have this kind of situation in your church.

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