father's day or not

UPI‘s got a story up (spoiler alert: you don’t need to go there, I’m about to explain it here) about a Canadian school that’s done-away with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

The school – Astral Drive Elementary School in Nova Scotia – instead holds “Family Day” on May 15 to include non-traditional families.

Some of the non-traditional families include those with same-sex parents, single-parent homes and children who have lost their parents. This year on Family Day, students wrote the names of all of the people that support them on a tree in the school’s gymnasium.

The landscape of motherhood and fatherhood has been changing and evolving. So too should Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. While tradition is fun, and honoring parents for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day has been a mainstay in schools, it’s not a requirement. Astral Drive Elementary School found a way to not only honor mothers and fathers, but also those families who don’t have the same architecture as what we’d regard as “the traditional family.”

As more gay parents adopt, they wonder how they’ll be able to explain to their children Mother’s Day when there’s no mother, or Father’s Day when there’s no dad in the household. Something like Family Day is scary for traditionalists who might get wistful for the days of kids making dad a hardly-coffee-safe clay mug or mom a bouquet of tissue-paper flowers in class. But as our audience changes, the show must as well.

Recently, a dad blogger had posted a plea for advice about Mother’s Day. He and his partner felt uncomfortable sending their daughter to school the day of a Mother’s Day event where moms would be accompanying their kids. The blogger (whose name I’m withholding since this wasn’t discussed publicly) was afraid his daughter would feel left out, adding that she “is still too young to understand her unique situation.” A day like Family Day is a great solution.

Another father suggested a Lifetime article by Jerry Mahoney called “Celebrating Mother’s Day, Minus the Mom“. This can also be applied to Father’s Day. Suggestions include giving each parent their own day, giving both parents both days and
celebrating the concept – where you still honor moms in-general on Mother’s Day.

With Father’s Day coming up, kids across the country (and world where it applies for their Father’s Days) are looking forward to honoring their dads with oddly-relevant gifts and mostly-not-forced sentiments in cards. But a portion of kids out there won’t have a father in the household – for many reasons. Maybe dad died in the line of duty. Maybe the child has two mothers. In the United States, 24 million children live without their biological father in the household (according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, via the Census Bureau). That’s a large number of kids who may not know exactly what to do on Father’s Day. And there might be a parent in the household reaching for a solution.

Thanks to this little school in Nova Scotia, we might have one. And bottom line: this is just one school’s initiative. UPI reports some parents being bent out of shape about it. Families can still celebrate whatever they’d like at home – but in school, this seems like a great idea.