Sunday 19th June is Father's Day - a time to reflect on being a father, or a father figure such as a foster carer, and what our own fathers mean to us. But what is the history of the day itself?
According to the Metro newspaper: "Father's Day has been celebrated among European Catholics since the middle-ages when it was originally marked on Saint Joseph's Day (19 March) with a feast. An annual day set aside for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe can be traced back as far as 1508 - although it is possible that a day honouring fatherhood specifically could have begun even earlier than that America was one of the first nations to make Father's Day an official holiday. The tradition was started by a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd, who was raised by a single father along with her five brothers, after their mother died during childbirth." (metro.co.uk, 2020)
But what does Father's Day mean to you?
As an adult, hopefully it means a fantastic day of eating and treating Dad (or being treated if you are the Dad!), reminiscing about fun you had with Dad when you were growing up and plans for the future.
For me, Father's Day is a little different as my Dad passed away aged 56 years from a heart condition. It was sudden, unexpected and he was far too young. I was also only 21 years old when he died. So, Father's Day for me is definitely remembering the laughs and shared experiences, but also the loss of the time that we never got to spend together. My Dad never got to meet my daughter who is now older than I was when he passed away. I think they would have got on so well and I know he would have doted on her. I like to think that he is keeping an eye on her from somewhere.
Some people, however, will not have such positive experiences of Dads, so Father's Day can bring up difficult or mixed emotions. Perhaps their Dad was abusive or absent, and maybe instead they had a positive father figure in a stepdad, uncle or foster carer.
When working with vulnerable children and their families we know there are many Dads who have children in foster care. Some will be able to see their children on Father's Day, but regardless it may be a difficult day for them both.
Therefore, there is that extra dimension to Father's Day if you are a foster carer, beyond being both a father and a son. Many male foster carers are fathers themselves; and therefore, able to draw on these parenting skills and life experiences to bring a foster child possibly their first positive experience of a male care giver. This gives the child or young person a chance to:
Over the last 2 years, the COVID situation has seen more people staying at home, and many men seem to have taken stock of what family time (and therefore the role of Dad) means to them. As a recruiter of foster carers, many of the male applicants I speak to said they enjoyed being at home so much that they have changed their work arrangements, and are therefore able to consider fostering.
There are many male foster carers fostering either jointly with a partner or as a single person. Men have so much to bring to fostering and changing young people's lives, with children of all genders and backgrounds benefitting from having a good role model. This is what one of our male foster carers felt that Father's Day meant to him: "It means the world when your foster child thinks of you as a father figure. You know you are doing your job well." Neil, Foster Carer
So, all it remains for me to say is that for all you Dads out there, we wish you a lovely Father's Day and hope your family spoil you rotten.