Donuts With(out) Dads

I grew up in a time and community where divorce was a very rare occurrence. My introduction to the existence of divorce was at the Camp Fire Girls father-daughter banquet when I was in the sixth grade. My classmate walked in, a bit hesitantly I sensed, no father in sight. I remember being confused until I overheard adults talking about her parents being divorced. I held my dad’s hand a little tighter that night and was a little more grateful for his involvement in my life.

Donuts with Dads has become a popular event at many schools, and February is the month for father-daughter dances and dinners. I’m glad to see events that point to an emphasis on the importance of father’s involvement and the need for positive male role models. It’s a well-accepted fact that children with healthy relationships with their fathers fare better in almost every segment of life. Fathers involvement is important on so many levels, better for the individual child and also on a societal level.

Sometimes divorce is going to happen, it’s an unavoidable fact in our world. Ideally, the fathers will choose to remain an active, involved participant in their children’s lives and be there for all the important events. Studies show children benefit psychologically, economically and socially from a healthy ongoing relationship with their father post-divorce. Unfortunately, studies also show that it is common for the level of involvement to significantly drop off five years after divorce.

I can’t help but wonder how it felt for my friend in 6th grade, and how it feels for other children of divorce, to not have their dad attend these events with them. It’s a harsh reality that one out of three children do not have their biological father living in the home with them.  That translates into a lot of kids that may not have a Dad to eat doughnuts with, no father to go to the father-daughter dance.

This may seem like a trivial issue to worry about – not having a father to show up to eat donuts or attend a yearly dance. For adults, it may seem like no big deal, but to a child it may be extremely important. It may be that embarrassing event that points out their loss to everyone and makes them feel isolated and different.

Talking to your child about it is the first step. How important it is to them?  Does your child feel left out on Donuts with Dad days? Does the announcement of father-daughter dances cause stress and sadness? Does your ex go, do you substitute an uncle, grandfather or other male friend? Do you go or does your child go it alone? Have you had to handle this situation as a single parent?

Categories: Single Stepping