According to the National Retail Association, Australian’s spend $800 million each year on Father’s Day. Yeap, that’s a lot of socks and undies! And while the terrible Dad jokes won’t change anytime soon, what has changed is the definition of a family which has shifted in the last century. As we know, families come in all shapes and sizes and those that identify as Dads can be gay, trans or not associated with a gender. Let’s not forget, we also have single-parents, stepparents, and the parents who we’ve lost. The truth is, every time these Hallmark Holidays come around, many parents with young kids struggle because it’s really awkward and brings about mixed feelings. But, at the end of the day, the common denominator is always love.
You gotta admit, there’s still a lot of work to do on how Father’s Day is represented in mainstream media. Society still expects the Aussie Dad to be white, male, blokey AF, loves his cricket and firing up the barbie. Meanwhile mum is behind the scenes, marinating that bloody chicken in her fluffy pink slippers she was gifted on Mother’s Day. What society urgently needs to do is to start observing that the modern day family has changed. It won’t change overnight, but hey, it starts by calling out stereotypes.
So, should we still celebrate Father’s Day?
Whatever your family makeup and the ones around you, I think it’s still important to observe the day in some shape or form. Here are a few things you can do to make it an inclusive event:
- Use Father’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate all types of families. Talk about the different people in your child’s life and the amazing things they’ve done.
- If your child has two Dads, cards can be made for both Mother’s and Father’s Day.
- As same-sex marriage is not legal in Australia, it can be a sensitive time for people who identify as LBGTI. Make sure you show your love and support by voting ‘yes’ in the postal survey on marriage equality. Please take a few minutes to check your details is correct on the electoral roll. You will only be eligible to vote if you do this by 6pm tomorrow (24 August).
- Research suggests that over 80% of characters in children’s books are white, able-bodied, and from heterosexual families, which clearly doesn’t reflect the reality of our world. Kids learn so much about identities and form opinions about people through books. Take note of the types of books your children read and explore books that celebrate diverse and inclusive families. A list of suggested books can be found here.
- Father’s Day can be used as an opportunity to look at gender stereotypes and steer clear of activities and gifts that involve gender-stereotyping e.g. making cards shaped like ties (C’mon, how unoriginal is that?).
- Kids can be mean sometimes and it’s also a good time to teach tolerance and be aware of any potential name-calling or bullying because of sexual orientation. Gwyneth Paltrow wrote on her website Goop.com, “When my daughter came home from school one day saying that a classmate had two mums, my response was, ‘Two mums? How lucky is she?!’”
So, how do you celebrate Father’s Day? I would love to hear about it how you make it an inclusive event.