A good friend and fellow single mother was telling me about her plans to attend her daughter’s “Father’s Day Breakfast” at school today.
A little awkward, perhaps, but what the heck.

As a single mother raising sons, Father’s Day has always been a bit of a delicate proposition for me. When the boys were younger and subject to Father’s Day art projects at school, I would gently guide them to address their cards and gifts to their grandfather, or a favorite uncle.

Now, they handle it on their own. My younger son just confessed that he “forgot” to do his homework assignment last night, which was to write a letter to his father – or significant male role model of his choice.

He doesn’t seem troubled or embarrassed about it. He simply decided it didn’t apply to him and opted out.

What he doesn’t know is that “fathers” – the shortage of them, the role they should play in a child’s life, the very need for them – has become a subject of significant controversy in some circles.

Do children need fathers?

This feels like a trick question. If you Google it (as I did yesterday), you will find a broad assortment of political and religious opinions, supported by varying amounts of self-serving “research.”

I have no research. I have only my own experiences, growing up in a fairly traditional two-parent family and now, parenting two sons as a single mother.

Still, conscious parenting means paying attention to the details. The question I ask myself, on a regular basis is, “What do children need to thrive?

Once you get beyond the food and shelter stuff, you can start working on relationships.

I believe that children need strong, positive, loving and supportive caregivers who stick around when the going gets tough. We call these people parents, regardless of their sex or biological link to the child.

I also believe that children need strong, positive, loving and successful role models – of both genders.


Because our planet is approximately 50% male and 50% female.

Because somehow, someday, we will all need to learn to co-exist peacefully. Respectfully. Joyfully.

I want my sons to grow up to be strong, loving and successful human beings.

I want my sons to grow up knowing that men and women are equally important to the survival of our species; equally deserving of love and respect; and equally capable of creating miracles in our world.

I want my sons to grow up to be proud men, loving fathers and – if they wish – successful, joyful husbands.

I cannot accomplish this alone.

And so, on Father’s Day, I am the one giving thanks. I celebrate and honor the men in my sons’ lives – the wonderful, dedicated individuals who are teaching my children what it means to show up for the job of fatherhood, in all its forms.

To every man who has taken on the sometimes thankless (and frequently underpaid) job of teaching in our schools, thank you.

To every father who has ever coached my sons in soccer, basketball, or baseball – and to those who umpire and referee and cheer from the sidelines – thank you.

To my brothers and brothers-in-law, who are teaching my sons what it means to be a responsible adult male, involved in their children’s lives, sticking it out for the long term, enjoying the role of father – your example is more important that you can possibly imagine. Thank you.

And to my own father (Grandpa!), who taught me so much about parenting in general and fatherhood in particular – I hope you know by now, how much I love you and cherish our relationship. You are a rock and guiding force in my sons’ lives. Thank you.

Finally, I need to say thank you to a very special man, who is not a father on paper, but very much one in real life.

I was blessed, when I first adopted the boys, to find a male nanny to provide care for my children while I was at work. Eight years later, he is still very much a part of our lives.

Talk about sticking around.

I’m not sure he realizes, how much he has grown over the years – or how much we have grown because of him. I could not have asked for a more loving, supportive and wise role model for my children, and I will be forever grateful.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And to all the men in the world, who are helping to bring our next generation of sons and daughters to adulthood...

Happy Father’s Day!

Related Posts:

I write more about being a single mother raising sons in, Totally Single Parenting and About Boys, and the Mothers Who Love Them.

For a tribute to mothers (who play an equally important role in bringing our children to adulthood) see, I Love You, Mom.

Recommended Reading:

For something mothers and fathers will both enjoy, try Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. In this lovely book, Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn (author of Wherever You Go, There You Are) write about the ups and downs of parenting in the real world. Open to any chapter and you will find a treasure.

Author's Bio: 

Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.