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Why you should think twice about saying “Happy” Mother’s and Father’s Day

May 14, 2015

Credit Brittany Bartkowiak

We just celebrated Mother's Day, and Father's Day is right around the corner. Lots of people look forward to these special days. But not everyone. For some, Mother’s and Father’s Day is not a happy holiday.

It’s one that can cause a lot of grief.

NPR recently explored how Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday for foster families. Kids in foster care can feel torn between their mom and foster mom --  who do they spend the day with? Other kids, like ones who have been through abuse, might not think their mom is worth celebrating.  A lot of foster families have come to expect that Mother’s and Father’s Day, like many other holidays, are often filled with tears.

But it’s not just people in foster care that have a hard time with days that celebrate Mom and Dad. They can be tough for kids who have lost a parent too. The same goes for parents who have had a child pass away, like ones featured in our infant mortality documentary.

The list goes on: parents in prison, families with fertility problems, and even kids who have a bad relationship with one or both of their parents might not have a “happy” Mother’s or Father’s Day.

Peggy Galimberti is a Program Director at Ele’s Place, a Michigan nonprofit that helps grieving children and their families. She says these types of holidays are extra challenging. 

The best way to help grieving kids on Mom and Dad’s day, says Galimberti, is simple: “Be present and authentic.” She says that some kids may want to continue old traditions or start a new one. Whatever the case may be, Galimberti says, “It is always a good idea to ask what the child wants or needs to do, and to respect their choice.” 

Resources for dealing with holiday grief can be found on the Ele’s Place website. If you know of additional resources, let us know in the comment section below.