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Coping when Father's Day is difficult

Seren, 23, shares why Father's Day is hard for her, and what helps her cope.

Father’s Day has always been quite difficult for me. At least, it began to be after my dad left my life 11 years ago.

I was 12 years old when my dad decided it would be easier not to see me or my brothers. For years we tried to reach him, but it was like trying to catch smoke. He openly wanted nothing to do with us, and my mum would always say “it’s his loss.”

It always really annoyed me when family members said “he still loves you.” Even as a child, I knew that you can’t abandon someone you love when there are so many reasons to stay. In my late teenage years, I managed to track him down and we spoke on the phone. Even after I told him that I had a life-threatening rare disease, he didn’t live up to his promise of calling me back.

Out of anger, disappointment, frustration and embarrassment, I sent him a rather cutting message and blocked him. I haven’t heard from him since.

Growing up, it was hard to hear my friends chat about how silly and funny their dads were. It was awkward explaining that I’m half Turkish on my dad’s side, but no I can’t speak Turkish or remember which part of Turkey he came from.

My experience of Father's Day

On Father’s Day, it was probably hardest.

I’d walk past shops with glaring, intrusive Father’s Day adverts. On the day, my social media feed would flood with huge chunks of text from friends celebrating their dads (which I did on Mother’s Day too!) with photos through the years. Now my email inbox floods with Father’s Day messaging for weeks leading up to the day.

‘Treat Dad with a gift he deserves!’
‘Show Dad you love him!’
‘Make his Father’s Day one to remember’

Luckily some companies offer the option to ‘opt out’ of Father’s Day emails, but not all of them do. At least I’ve gotten used to not having my dad around - it must be so hard for people who have recently been abandoned, had their dads pass away, or suffer difficult / abusive relationships with them.

Family can be anyone we choose

No matter what your relationship with your dad, if you find Father’s Day difficult, that is completely okay! Maybe you have a great dad but feel the struggle on Mother’s Day, or maybe you find both days challenging. Either way, it’s important to remember that you are special and you are loved. Family can be anyone we choose!

I know that even though my dad wasn’t around to see me grow up, I became a good person and achieved some really great things. I worked really hard, and beat a lot of odds, and I’m really proud of that!

I’ve also been lucky to feel the love of another dad - my boyfriend’s dad.

I’ve been with my boyfriend for over five-and-a-half years now, and to start with I felt so confused by just how normal his dad was. He tells really typical dad jokes (they are rubbish, but that’s what makes them so good!) and he is the best storyteller I know. Honestly, he’s phenomenal at telling a story. He jokes that he’s not emotional, but he’s one of the most thoughtful people I know, and it’s obvious he would do anything for his kids.

It’s important to remember that you are special and you are loved. Family can be anyone we choose!

Early into my relationship with my boyfriend, I’d sometimes feel quite upset being around his family. Why? Because it hurt to watch a family dynamic I never had. For a long time, I felt like I was on the outside looking in, watching two parents love and care for their kids instead of one.

It wasn’t because of anything they did; they truly welcomed me from day one. It was because depression and anxiety made me feel incredibly isolated as a teenager, and the situation heightened it.

As time went on, I became more and more used to the family dynamic, and now I feel like I’m part of it, rather than on the outside looking in. It’s so nice to know that my boyfriend has the unconditional support of both his parents, and that their love extends to me as well. I speak to them all the time, they came to my graduation, and I even lived with them for three months! I really do feel part of the family.

Of course I do sometimes get upset or feel isolated when we’re all together, but that comes with the territory of living with conditions that are naturally isolating. But at least I know that I finally have that kind of paternal presence in my life. It’s nice to know I have a father figure to ask advice and have a laugh with!

If you feel up to it and have a father figure, like a partner’s dad, a brother or another family member, you could even celebrate them.

Final tips for coping this Father's Day

If you struggle with Father’s Day, remember it’s okay to take a break from your emails and social media. Spend the day doing something that makes you feel good. If you feel up to it and have a father figure, like a partner’s dad, a brother or another family member, you could even celebrate them.

Chat with someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Try to remember that even though it doesn’t take away from what you’re feeling, you are not alone - thousands of other people are going through the same thing every single day, and support is out there.

 

Author: Seren, 23

Where to get support

If you're struggling with your mental health, have a look at our find help page for tips, advice and information on what support is available to you.

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