Honoring Non-Biological Dads on Father’s Day

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June 11, 2014

Father’s Day is fast-approaching and while many are scrambling for last-minute ideas for gifts and activities, there is one group that is often overlooked. In today’s modern society, more men than ever are raising children to whom they are not biologically related – after all, the divorce rate is at about 50%.  Here are some suggestions for making the day more meaningful and less awkward for these special men in our children’s lives.

Bonus Dad

If you and your family feel comfortable with the terms “stepfather” or “stepdad,” by all means, continue using them. If, for whatever reason, you stumble over those words and feel like they distance him from his role, consider calling him a “bonus dad.”  When you think about it, that’s what he really is, right?  An extra father-figure for your children.

Talk To Your Kids

If your children are going to do something to recognize their bonus dad, it’s best for it to come from their hearts. We can all tell when something is heartfelt and genuine and it will mean so much more if your children find their own ways of expressing their gratitude. Consider having them write notes to show their appreciation instead of trying to search for a specialty card.

Sit Down with Your Ex

If your ex is still in the picture, seeing his children honor another man can be difficult. For this reason, it’s a good idea to sit down and talk with him about why it’s important that every person involved with the upbringing of your children be celebrated. Chances are, your ex will be the bonus dad to other children one day and will come to understand the beauty of a blended families. If this is an area of contention, consider a few sessions of family therapy since your children will only suffer if the adults in their lives cannot find a way to work together.

When Dad is No Longer Living

It can be especially tough if a man is raising the children of someone who has passed away. There is no formal acceptance or closure and it can feel as though he is living in someone’s shadow. One way to make this easier is to pay tribute to your children’s father as a new family. Let your children see that the new man in their lives is not trying to replace their dad and understands that his memory cannot and should not be erased.

The holidays celebrating parents can be tricky for a number of reasons but, with a little creativity and lots of love, we can spread warmth and happiness to our loved ones.

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