At first, I was ready to throw church observance of Father’s Day out the window. In my single parent years, it was a terribly painful reminder of what my children DIDN’T have, as they joined the other Primary children in singing “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.” In our family, Daddy didn’t come home. In some families, there is no Daddy in the picture at all. I thought we could collectively decide to let Father’s Day be a home celebration, not a church celebration.
Then I read an article in Deseret News called “Why the ideal of the impossibly perfect family matters” (November 27, 2011, 6). The author, Tiffany Gee Lewis, spoke of her ward being “a small United Nations, with a varying mix of social classes. The majority of the children were from single parent homes. There was no need to cause these children unnecessary pain. Father’s Day slid by without notice. The next year, under the direction of a new Primary chorister, these same children stood and proudly sang, ‘I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.’ The chorister was no stranger to family challenges, and she was aware that many of these children had no father, but she believed in the message of the song. From watching the children, I could tell that they did, too. I realized that I had done the children a disservice by not allowing them to sing about a choice encounter with a father. It wasn’t the life that most of them lived, but it was certainly what they were striving for. If we don’t teach them about what can be, no one else will. We need to teach them (and remind ourselves) that it is possible to have both a father and mother who love their children, and if you didn’t have it growing up, then try to create it with your own family. Everything depends upon it.” (italics in the original)
I looked at the Sharing Time manual and noticed that there is no mention of Father’s Day or Mother’s Day in the Sunday lessons. I’ve seen a clever Primary president teach the scheduled lesson about the restoration on Mother’s Day while dressed up in pioneer garb, saying “I’m Lucy Mack Smith. Who here would like to learn about my son? I have some home videos about when he was growing up. Would you like to see them?” Then she had the children draw on a handout similar to what I’ve attached here. That Sunday, she taught the gospel but honored mothers as well, without overstating the point.
Last year on Father’s Day, I taught the attached lesson plan as an addendum to the regular Sharing Time lesson. I wanted to acknowledge the day in a way that would help the children think about gifts of service they could give to Heavenly Father and their earthly fathers, or someone who is like a father to them. I wanted them to know that I think all dads love their children as best they can, even though they can’t always be with them. And certainly Heavenly Father loves us immensely, even though we can’t be with Him right now either, in a different way. I’d love to hear what you come up with as you prayerfully consider what your Primary children need this Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
This post is a free chapter of the book “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids” that was born on this blog. Read more here.