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.

2 thoughts on “Father's Day & Kids Who Have Lost Their Dad”

  1. My nephews just lost their dad exactly one month before Father’s Day. He was the Associate Pastor of our small church. Normally as a church we acknowledge the fact that a lot of times mom fillls that role as dad and we honor them on both Mother’s and Father’s Day. This year will be tough for the whole congregation but most importantly the boys. We thought about canceling Father’s Day at our church this year but instead we decided to honor Pastor Shane sharing our memories of him. He will always and forever be a founding father of our church! Like you mentioned we will probably go out to eat at his favorite restaurant as a family just make sure the boys don’t feel isolated, but loved by all. Thank you for posting this on your blog.

  2. We have five children that have lost their dad’s in the past three years at our small church! Two of those children are my grandchildren who lost their dad three days before Father’s Day! I also have a great-grandson in my class whose dad has been in prison since he was three months old. He does not know his dad and probably never will due to the abuse the child’s mother suffered before and after the child was born. The child also had night terrors until recently(he will be six years old in a couple of weeks) all due to his mom being hit, kicked, smothered and choked during her pregnancy! It is very hard to deal with Father’s Day for these children! The three children that recently lost their dads during the pandemic have really bad anger issues and one of them talks about wanting to die and hurting himself, he is nine years old. The mother of two of these boys nearly died with Covid as well and the boys have become very attached to their mom since she recovered and got back home. I have talked to the mom about getting counseling for the boys but she was not receptive to the idea. My grandchildren went through 18 months of counseling and it helped immensely! They also had group counseling through their school after their private counseling ended. My staff and I are at a loss as to what to do with these three boys that have not had counseling. They are disruptive, hateful, rude, and mean to the other kids as well as my staff and myself. They hurt each other in class by hitting and pinching and kicking! Sometimes we have to go get the mothers to come and take the child/children out of the classroom. A few of the kids are apprehensive about coming to class now since these boys are so unruly. I feel so bad for them and yet I don’t know what more we can do. If anyone has any suggestions, they would certainly be appreciated!

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