Navigating Complex Emotions on Father’s Day (and Every Day)

Father's Day – a day filled with barbecues, sentimental cards, and social media tributes to dads. But this Hallmark holiday can be a minefield of complex emotions for many of us. Maybe you didn't grow up with a father figure present. Perhaps your relationship with your dad is strained. Whatever the reason, it's important to acknowledge that Father's Day isn't always sunshine and roses.

The Many Forms of Fatherhood

The traditional image of Father's Day often portrays a picture-perfect dad, always there with a warm embrace and a sage piece of advice. But the reality is far more nuanced. Father figures can be physically absent, emotionally distant, or even abusive. Societal pressure to have a "perfect" dad can add another layer of complexity.

The good news: a positive male role model can come in many forms. It could be an uncle who stepped in your dad's absence, a supportive grandfather, or a dedicated mentor. Recognising these figures can help us broaden the definition of fatherhood and celebrate the men who have a positive impact on our lives.

For example, a young boy, we'll call him Jack, never had a close relationship with his biological father. But his school football coach became a constant source of encouragement and guidance. He not only helped Jack excel on the pitch but also offered invaluable life lessons about perseverance, teamwork, and self-belief. This Father's Day, Jack plans to reach out to his coach and express his gratitude for the positive influence he had on his life.

Understanding Your Emotional Rollercoaster

Father's Day can trigger a whole spectrum of feelings: anger, sadness, grief, envy, or loneliness. It's completely normal to experience these emotions, but trying to bottle them up can actually be more damaging in the long run.

The first step towards managing these emotions is acknowledging them. What are you feeling? Why? Once you understand your emotional landscape, you can start exploring healthy coping mechanisms.

  • Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a powerful tool for processing difficult emotions. Studies have shown that journaling can help reduce stress, improve mood, and boost self-awareness.
  • Talk it out: Confide in a trusted friend, therapist, or someone who understands your situation. Talking to a supportive person can provide a safe space to express your emotions and gain valuable perspective.
  • Embrace creativity: Channel your feelings through art, music, or any form of creative expression. Engaging in creative activities can be a cathartic way to process and release difficult emotions.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Experiment and find what works best for you.

Reframing Father's Day: It's Your Day Too

Father's Day doesn't have to be a day of obligatory phone calls and forced sentimentality. Let's challenge the traditional narrative and reclaim the day for ourselves!

  • Celebrate Positive Male Role Models: Do you have a male friend who has been a pillar of support or a mentor who has guided your career? Take this opportunity to show them your appreciation. Send a heartfelt message, invite them for a coffee catch-up, or simply acknowledge their positive influence in your life.
  • Practice Self-Care: Treat yourself to a relaxing day at the spa, indulge in your favourite hobby, or simply get some much-needed rest. Father's Day can be a perfect opportunity to focus on your well-being. Take a long bath, read a good book, or spend time in nature – whatever helps you recharge and de-stress.
  • Reclaim the Day: Fatherhood comes in many forms. Volunteer at a children's organisation, watch a classic father-son movie marathon or simply celebrate the positive portrayals of fatherhood in pop culture.

Make Father's Day about something that resonates with you. For example, meet Sarah. She grew up without a father and decided to volunteer at a local mentorship program for young boys on Father's Day. By giving back to her community and helping to positively impact young lives, Sarah finds a meaningful way to celebrate the day without focusing on her own personal loss.

Healing and Moving Forward

Healing from a complex relationship with your father is a personal journey. There's no set timeline, and there may be bumps along the road. Forgiveness and reconciliation are possibilities, but it's entirely on your terms.

Focus on building healthy, supportive relationships in your own life. Surround yourself with people who uplift you and make you feel valued. These relationships can be a source of strength and resilience as you navigate challenges.

  • Friends and Family: Strengthen your bonds with close friends and family members who offer unconditional love and support.
  • Romantic Partners: Build a healthy and fulfilling romantic relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and open communication.
  • Therapist: Consider seeking professional help from a therapist who can provide guidance and support on your healing journey. A therapist can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms, process difficult emotions, and work towards achieving personal growth.

Helpful resources are also available: therapy, support groups, and online communities can offer valuable guidance and support on your healing journey.

Remember, healing is a process, not a destination. Be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress along the way.


Father's Day can be a day of mixed emotions, but it doesn't have to define your happiness. By taking ownership of your feelings, prioritising self-care, and fostering positive relationships, you can create your own meaningful way to celebrate or simply choose to ignore the day altogether.

Remember, a strong support system is crucial. Don't hesitate to reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist. Take care of yourself, and remember, you are loved and valued.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top