As Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other special occasions in the lives of pupils are celebrated in schools, it is a time as a teacher
- To recognize that marking Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other Special Occasions for some children can evoke very difficult feelings of grief and loss
- to consider the possible diversity of family structures and situations in the classroom
While many pupils will have a mother and a father, a child may be bereaved of a parent, others may have two moms, two dads, a single mom or dad, grandparents raising them, foster parents, divorced or separated parents, may never have met a parent or a whole range of other family situations.
We know 3% of children are bereaved of a parent in Ireland. This resource sets out some key points to consider for the bereaved child in your classroom.
Planning is very important so that every child feels included and has a choice to mark the particular occasion in a way that supports their particular circumstances and does not isolate them or cause them to feel excluded or different in any way.
It can really help if the teacher consults with the child whose parent has died, sensitively and quietly in advance, away from full view of the class about how they would like to participate.
Some may want to engage in the planned activity, e.g. making a card. Others may want to opt out, while others may decide who will receive the card.
It is important to respect their choices.
For older classes, it can be helpful to have discussions that focus on exploring role models of Mothers and Fathers, extended family members and other positive role models in a young person’s life.
Discussions on the different role models can help young people identify traits and characteristics of positive role models they may identity with.
Acknowledging that Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other Special Occasions may be difficult for some children and not ignoring the occasion is a powerful acknowledgment and validation for children experiencing grief and loss and supports them in a very special way.