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Just a Guy Who Was Single on Father's Day

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Bruce Sallan: This Father's Day, being recently remarried, I don't have to face it wondering what to do and who will teach my boys to remember and respect me. But, in previous years, while I was encouraging them to make or buy Mother's Day and birthday cards for their mother, who had abandoned them, there seemed to be no one to help them with the same task for me.

Father with his two sons sitting on a couch

This is no feel-sorry-for-myself reflection, but a conundrum many single parents face when their birthdays or other holidays come about. I was vigilant in reminding them to remember their mother and her mother, not because she deserved anything from them, but because it taught them to respect parents, other relatives, and learn the right thing to do when they got older.

But it was hard. Did I give them my wish list? Did I take them to shop for me? I had no close relatives or friends that could fill the bill for me, so I had to figure it out myself. The solution: we went out to eat at a restaurant of my choice vs. the usual pizza or burger joint. I took them to the bookstore for an outing and gave them money to find a book for me vs. their usual searching for themselves.

Yes, it felt a bit self-indulgent, but I decided they needed to respect their old man in the same way I taught them to remember their mother, their grandparents, and each other on respective birthdays. Also, to pay attention to what I liked by actually thinking about a book that would be of interest to me.

Now, I have a thoughtful and attentive new wife and stepmom for the boys. It's taken care of the way I remember, when my mom would take me to buy a tie clip for my dad at the department store. Ah, tie clips, another anachronism. But, what do I know; I'm just a guy.


next: What Father's Day Means to Me
14 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous June 21, 2009, 11:52 AM

what a winer

Your Wife June 21, 2009, 12:13 PM

Happy Father’s Day honey. You have to admit the boys did better than a tie clip don’t ya think? But I agree, it’s important for kids to learn respect for their elders and to start thinking about other people besides themselves.
-Your Wife.


shea June 21, 2009, 12:40 PM

awe i feel the same way on mothers day and it is very hard! now that hes older my son makes me a card on mothers and fathers day lol im the only parent hes ever had so he thanks me on both days..isnt that cute? love ur post!!

Arnie June 21, 2009, 3:09 PM

Happy Fathers day dad. I remember all those things we did. Like that one time where we made u a giant cookie in the shape of a heart. And you barely ate it haha. Now it’s easier for us with our stepmom, but i miss the times when we could fart and be boys.

Aaron June 21, 2009, 3:44 PM

Happy Fathers Day DAD!!!!! I can’t really remember those days that well. I loved how we would go to the bookstore EVERY Friday to look for books. And Now, you just drop me off there!!!
I love you and miss you!!!
-Aaron-

Nell June 21, 2009, 6:48 PM

Awwww….it seems like you have done a good job with your boys. Their comments to you are so cute!! Happy Father’s Day to you!

Anonymous June 22, 2009, 5:38 PM

Pretty much right on, but you would think that all the “training” you did with your boys for Mother’s Day would have transferred to Father’s Day!

Then again, it can be very difficult to inculcate thoughtfulness in boys…

Scott June 23, 2009, 4:03 AM

Bruce, love your column. Keep them coming!

Shani June 23, 2009, 6:03 PM

Good point. I hadn’t even thought about that challenge for single parents. I thought you handled the “single Father’s Day” very well- it’s all about teaching/mentoring.

David June 24, 2009, 3:08 PM

Because I myself do not have kids, I never thought about how Fathers’ or Mothers’ Day would be conducted by a single parent. Interesting set of reflections. I like the idea, described in the column, of (in this case) the father inviting the offspring to think about him on Father’s Day. Above a certain age, one’s child(ren) could be invited to do some creative and critical thinking in response to a single parent’s statement along the lines of “It’s Fathers’” — or Mothers’ (depending on if you’re a father or a mother! — “and no one is going to coach you to remember me in a special way. How cand we fix that?” And then let the child(ren) think about solutions to the situation. But what do I know, I’m just a childless guy? I do have SERIOUS disagreement with Bruce about the matter of tie clips: If you google (make sure to include the quotation marks), you will find several testimonials to the fact that they have been back in style for a couple of years. I myself look for them in antique/collectible stores, they are pretty hip/cool accoutrements.

David June 24, 2009, 3:15 PM

My comments may not have “taken” when I hit “post,” so I will try again. As someone who does not have kids, I never thought of the complications that Bruce describes. I think he handled them creditably. Above a certain age, a single parent’s child(ren) could be asked, “In families with two parents in the home, one helps children remember the other on Fathers’ or Mothers’ Day. How could that be handled in a family like ours, with only one parent in the home?” That could yield some pretty good experience in creative and analytical thinking for the child(ren). But I’m just a childless male, what do I know? What I do indeed know, by the way, is that tie clips have been hip in a retro-cool kind of way for a couple of years now. Don’t believe me? Enter the phrase (use the quotation marks) in Gurgle and you’ll get linked to articles and commentaries on the subject. I have been building a small collection of vintage clips by haunting antique stores and the like.

Anonymous July 3, 2009, 10:09 AM

It sounds like you are a great dad with good values. People say it’s easier to raise boys…but is it? You have to teach boys to be men and in this society there is a lot of weight put on a mans role such as providing for the family and dealing with us crazy women! It sounds like your boys have a good role model (lucky for their future wives)!

Bruce Sallan July 3, 2009, 10:55 AM

Dear Anonymous;

Thanks for your kind words and comment. I think raising boys is much more difficult than it was in previous years where boys were “allowed” to be boys. I know this is a mom’s site so, at the risk of being a bit controversial, the reality is our society (especially elementary education) has become VERY feminized. So, boys aren’t allowed to be boys. There’s a reason so many boys drop out of high school now vs. previous times. I will likely write a blog on this subject, at the risk of being castigated by momlogic’s readers (worth the risk, don’t you think?). But, I still believe the old-fashioned “ideal” is a mother and father. Now that I’m remarried and the boys have a step-mom, there are various things she brings to the table/party that I just wasn’t - things like better table manners, not talking with your mouth full, holding your farts and burps, etc. I’m really being serious. Wow, you almost motivated a whole new blog’s worth of response. Thanks!

tabletki na pryszcze April 3, 2011, 7:24 AM

I am glad, that i found your site, there are a couple of cool articles


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