Do you dread Father’s Day? Do you find yourself frustrated in the greeting card aisle every year because you feel like you have to get a card but none of the Hallmark messages ring true? 

Are you estranged or is your father absent? If so, you are not alone. While Father’s Day is a celebration for some, for others, it can bring up feelings of sadness, anger, and disappointment. I get it. 

I had a very complicated relationship with my father and Father’s Day was always kind of painful for me. I was that person who would go into a store and see all these cards that would say things like:

“Dad, you were always there for me,” or, “You’re so amazing, thanks for always cheering me on,” etc. None of the Father’s Day sentiments were accurate for me or represented my experience with my father. 

If you can relate, this episode is for you. I’m sharing 5 non-traditional ways to celebrate Father’s Day to give you options to honor the beautiful, supportive relationships in your life.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

My dad was emotionally distant and unavailable. He was a workaholic and high-functioning alcoholic. By the time my parents divorced when I was about 13, I can honestly say I might have exchanged 100 words with my father up until that point. 

What I can tell you from my personal experience is that having a Father Wound impacts our lives. The Father Wound is a psychological and emotional injury that can stem from growing up with a father (or father-figure) who was absent, abusive, controlling, not emotionally attuned or available to you. Or simply there physically but checked out emotionally.

If Father’s Day is painful for you for any reason, there are things you can do to celebrate in non-traditional ways that might give you some peace and joy. 

1. Celebrate an Adult Impactor in Your Life Who Showed Up for You.

Do you have an adult in your life who was always there for you? It might be a teacher, school counselor, neighbor, or team coach. Celebrate them on Father’s Day. Do something special to thank them for who they were and are in your life. 

Focusing on the love and care you did receive while you were growing up can be healing. 

2. If You’re a Parent, Celebrate Your Co-Parent. 

Is your partner or your kid’s father a great parent? Celebrate and do something special with your children for them. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished together. 

If you chose a partner who can show up in a way your father didn’t, that is something to celebrate. So celebrate your partner, and also celebrate your ability to choose well, to do something different, and to stop the cycle. It is deeply healing when we do not pass the father wound on to the next generation. Your child will not have the same experience you had, and that really is something to celebrate!

3. Express Gratitude to Father-Figures in Your Life. 

When there is some kind of absence of a father, there can be a tendency for us to find father figures to fill that space in some way. 

I was always seeking men who were emotionally accessible, affectionate, and felt safe to be around. My college best friend’s father was funny, sweet, and emotionally effusive. Being in a household with their family and a father who no one was afraid of was an incredibly emotionally corrective experience for me. 

Did you have a loving uncle, grandparent, family friend, or a friend’s father who showed you healthy father/child dynamics? A father figure who filled a void for you? Write them a note or card and let them know how much it meant to you. Appreciation and gratitude are so important, not only for those we express it to but also for our own hearts!

4. Have a Self-Love Celebration.

What about simply loving on you? You made it, you’re here, and you survived regardless of how competent or incompetent the adults in your life were. Take yourself on a beautiful self-love date. 

What happens when we have parental wounds is we can grow up with a sense we are unworthy. As a child, you think, if I were better/different/good enough, my father would make time/pay attention/love me. 

If you are reading this right now, you are on a journey of self-improvement and you are worthy of love! Get dressed up, take yourself out to a beautiful meal, or stay in your PJs all day and watch all your favorite movies or read your favorite book. Go for a hike, go on an adventure, or treat yourself to something really special.

Do something that makes you feel like the queen you are, because, hey, baby, you made it. Regardless of how anyone might have failed you in your childhood, you are still seeking to grow and change and be healthier in your life and that is amazing. 

5. Have a Gathering with Your Chosen Family.

Do you know what’s amazing about being a grownup? No matter what might have happened in your life when you were growing up, you get to choose your family NOW. 

The incredibly frustrating thing about being a kid of a disappointing parent is we didn’t get to choose. But now, as an adult, we are beautifully liberated to surround ourselves with the people who truly love and respect us. 

Think about the people who are in your front row cheering you on. Who wants you to win? These are the people who are your chosen family and should be in the VIP section of your life. If Father’s Day is a disappointing or painful day for you, consider gathering with people you love, who love you, and who are emotionally safe.

There is one last completely viable option. You can choose to ignore Father’s Day altogether. You don’t have to do a thing. You can look at it like any other day and just let it go by. 

But if you choose to do just one thing, choose to celebrate you, because self-celebration and self-love are always appropriate. We all need more of that. 

Inside this week’s guide, I have more self-love ideas and celebration ideas for you, so be sure to download it here now. 

If you are suffering from a Father Wound, I have something that can help. My workshop, Understand Your Father Wound will help you gain a deeper awareness of how your childhood experiences with your father (or a father figure) might be negatively impacting your self-esteem, sense of worthiness, and relationships. PLUS steps you can take to accelerate your healing journey. Here’s where you can learn more. 

You are worthy regardless of who raised you or didn’t raise you. You are worthy of love, respect, kindness, consideration, and compassion. You are worthy of being cherished. All of those things must start with you treating yourself in those ways because that lets the rest of the world know how to treat you. 

I hope that this adds value to your life. Have an amazing week celebrating you and as always take care of you.

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  1. Hi – I am now 60 years old and am only now becoming aware of the extent of my father/mother/parent wounds. There were no safe adults in our life to talk to. They were all emotionally/physically absent. I continued to attract the same dynamic throughout my life and struggled with friendships and relationships in general. I had no concept of my own feelings, needs, instincts or boundaries – they were all well and truly buried and out of reach for me.

    After much inner work, physical therapy and soul searching things are starting to change……..this podcast reminded me of a couple of people who did briefly impact my life in a positive way (although I was called back and away from them by my parents). I intend to connect with them again….

    Thank you for the reminder.

    1. Hi Katie,
      Thank you so much for sharing this and I’m so happy to hear about your journey! I appreciate you being here ❤️

  2. Dear Terri,
    This presentation tugged heavily at my heart. I had an absent father who sounds like yours…workaholic, highly functioning alcoholic, emotionally unavailable man and an abusive demanding mother. My grandmother was my key to love, but I was not around her enough. I constantly searched for a male to love me as a father would have (as much as I could imagine) and only found unavailable men and abusive or narcicisstic men, even the father of my son and his father (even though my son is amazing). I now am married to a man who raised two sons essentially alone, and I found the father figure and love of my life in him. I am so blessed to have finally, after over fifty years of life, to have experienced what this is like. You have helped me to realize how much I need to appreciate this gift. I finally get to see and feel what real father love is.
    Much love and gratitude,

    1. Hi Marilynn,
      I’m so glad this resonated for you and I love hearing about your family ❤️ I’m so happy to hear your journey!

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