5 Ways to Survive Father's Day When You Don't Have a Dad

This will be my second Father's Day since my dad died. We'd been estranged for over two years when he had a stroke and brain haemorrhage, meaning that it's actually five years since I last celebrated Father's Day with him. Along with his birthday and the day he died, tomorrow is one of the days when I'll think about him most - which is a very mixed-up feeling, as you'll understand if you read this Guardian article I wrote.

If you're dreading tomorrow, here are five ways to survive Father's Day when you don't have a dad.

1. Stay Off Social Media (and Media in General)

Social media will feature endless streams of moving, emotive posts about how much your friends love their dads - and newspapers and magazines will run features about Father's Day. If this is likely to make you feel melancholy, close your laptop, turn off your phone and go offline instead. Use the quiet time to meditate, practise yoga, go swimming or do another activity that doesn't involve being online.

2. Treat Yourself to a Lovely Day

Be kind to yourself and schedule a day full of treats. Maybe that means pancakes with maple syrup and a chocolate milkshake at your favourite cafe, or shopping for something you've wanted for ages. Perhaps you could get a haircut, have a massage, visit a part of town you've been meaning to explore, or even take a day trip to the seaside and walk along the beach.

3. Hang Out with Friends Who Are in the Same Situation

About half of my friends have no dad either, and sometimes it helps to socialise with people who are in the same predicament. Kick back with a few beers (or lemonades, my fellow non-drinkers) and have a catch-up. Maybe play a game of table tennis, or tennis, or pool. The weather's meant to be nice, so you probably won't get rained on.

4. Immerse Yourself in Escapism

One way I like to handle life's difficult days is by writing fiction. It allows me to escape to a more imaginative part of my brain, and enter a world where things are completely different. Or perhaps you'd rather tune into other people's creativity instead, and relax with a great novel, film or Netflix series. Even better, take yourself to the movies and enjoy a more immersive experience.

5. Remember That It's Just One Day

Tomorrow won't last forever. Remember that it's just one day out of life, and it's yours - a unit of time to use however you choose. It's an arbitrary date that only has the meaning you give it. That doesn't mean your feelings about it aren't valid - but it's comforting to know that they'll probably be gone the day after, and that people will stop talking about Father's Day.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a day full of peace.


  1. Never thought about that. For orphans it's like Valentine's Day for single people. Or Valentine's Day for everyone come to think of it. Thankfully as a father I'll never completely face that problem. And hopefully I'll be old and decrepit and a grandfather already when I leave this world so my son won't have to endure that either. He'll just enjoy the day with his own kids. Touch wood.

    Maybe you can find solace remembering the happy times with your dad and knowing you made two men fathers by 1)being born and 2)being a mummy. If you have a child again which I understand is your goal you'll make somebody else a father.

    1. That’s a wonderful way to think about it. Thank you - I’ll remember that.

  2. I just try to forget about it. I forgot about it once when my dad was still alive! I still feel bad about that.

    1. Oh no! Don’t feel bad about it. It’s easily done.

  3. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) “Prior to the People's Republic, when the Republic of China (1912-1949) governed from Nanjing, Father's Day was celebrated on August 8. This was determined by the fact that the eighth (ba) day of the eighth (ba) month makes two "eights" (八八, ba-ba), which sounds similar to the colloquial word for "daddy" (ba-ba,爸爸).”

    So think sheep.


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