I’ve started a tradition of supporting people who have a hard time with mother’s day, but I’ve neglected people who have a hard time with father’s day and I feel like a bit of a jerk for that. People who have a hard time with father’s day count too! Just because that day isn’t as much of a stuggle for me doesn’t mean you don’t matter!
In my post about mother’s day I hit most of the points I’m going to want to about father’s day, so if this seems strangely familiar that’s why.
If your father died and Father’s Day is an agonizing reminder, I see you. If you are trying to become a father but feel like a failure because your body isn’t cooperating, I see you. If god forbid your child died I see you. If you’re read as a read as a man but don’t identify as one and feel dysphoric or erased on Father’s Day, I see you. If you’re a trans man who wishes he could father a child one day, I see you. If you are a father but don’t know where your child is or if they’re safe, I see you (and don’t judge you, it’s impossible to love a mental illness or addiction away). If you have a hard time with Father’s Day for any reason, I see you.
Most of all, if your father doesn’t love you, I see you. If ignorant jerks are appalled that you aren’t going to call or visit your father, I see you. If you do visit and hate it, I see you. If self-centered assclowns won’t drop the fucking subject when you try to talk about something else, I see you. If you feel like an unlovable monster, I see you. If you were or are afraid of your father, I see you. If you were abandoned, I see you. If you don’t know who your father is, I see you. If all you have is a male biological parent, I see you.
To be clear there, I don’t believe in awarding the title of “father” to any asshole who provided some sperm. A father is a part of your life, he knows what you love, what you hate, what you do for a living, what pisses you off. I have both a biological male parent and a father, and my father is the one who has the slightest fucking idea when my birthday is. He fucked up in a multitude of ways and failed me profoundly and he is certainly my real father where the sperm guy is just the sperm guy.
For me, the worst part of Father’s Day is the assumption that everyone had a loving father who could be bothered to protect them. It sucks a lot to be inundated by all these ads and articles that assume everybody has a father who did his duty as a parent. I believe that mine loves me in the “I feel a feeling!” (that post is mostly about romantic love but the basic idea of “I feel a feeling!” love versus the real love of actions that make a person feel loved still applies) sense, but that’s cold comfort when he didn’t protect me from my asshole of a mother.
If your life is better without your father in it, that doesn’t mean dates like his birthday or Father’s day don’t still suck. That doesn’t mean you never feel guilty (even if it’s totally irrational) or wish you could reconcile no matter how many years you’ve been estranged. The societal programming that says you have to do certain things on those days is also a real pain in the ass to root out even when you know that you can’t have contact with your father and be happy.
Try to take care of yourself. You have this random internet asshole’s official permission to hide in your home all day and not interact with the outside world if that helps (either the permission or the hiding). It’s okay to have a rough time, it’s okay to excuse yourself, it’s okay to change the subject, and it is definitely okay to give people an extended icy glare and/or extremely blunt statement that you don’t want to talk about it if they decide to be prying assholes.
Finally, here’s how to not be an asshole to people who have a hard time with Father’s Day for any reason:
- Stop fucking assuming everyone loves Father’s Day.
- Stop fucking assuming that everyone has a father. Sometimes people die tragically young.
- Stop fucking assuming that everyone’s father loved them.
- Don’t directly ask what someone did for Father’s Day unless you know they have a good relationship with their father/kids. Just ask how their weekend was, they’ll tell you about what they did for Father’s Day if they damn well feel like it.
- If you do ask someone what they did for Father’s Day and they change the subject, for fuck’s sake let it stay changed. Don’t be a pushy asshole.
- If you find out someone is estranged from their father, do not ask why unless you are very, very close. There is no happy answer to that question, you prying fuck.
If you have a father who loves you and are looking forward to Father’s Day, that’s great and I’m genuinely happy for you. Just don’t be an asshole to people who aren’t as lucky are you are. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones, I hope this post gives you something to hang on to – that’s why I’m publishing it early.
Moderation note: This should go without saying, but if you decide to be an asshole in the comments for this of all posts, you will be permanently banned. Do not tell anyone that their father loved them when he clearly fucking didn’t.