Opinion: Why banning Mother's or Father's Day isn't the answer

Schools are banning mother’s and father’s day because families are becoming so complex that schools find it difficult not to insult one parent or another. Banning isn’t the answer, Trendwolves’ family expert Amélie claims. Why not embrace diversity? 

Last week, a couple of primary schools in Belgium, The Netherlands, Australia, Canada and the US made headlines because of their decision to ban Mother’s Day crafting and poetry activities. A couple of days prior to May 14th, parents received an e-mail stating that pupils wouldn’t bring home artworks to celebrate mom anymore ‘due to the rising diversity in current day’s families’. And before you get into a feminist rant: dads are awaiting the same fate in June. Many parents were outraged, and vented their anger on social media.

The schools didn’t act on religious motives - even though politicians and media quickly made it sound that way - , principals and teachers chose to ban Mother & Father’s day because of a growing diversity in today’s family structure. Some kids don’t have a mom anymore, some kids are engulfed in a divorce battle where they have to choose sides, some have two dads, or a mom who now is a dad… You get the picture. All this causes stress and sadness, the schools concluded, so they simply skipped it. 

We wondered: why should diversity and new family structures equal the demise of Mother’s and Father’s Day? 

These are the facts: In Europe, families with two parents and one child/ more children are still the biggest group but their numbers are shrinking. On the other hand, the ‘single parent with child’ structure is gaining ground. The main reasons are divorce and separation, death of a parent, and the choice of single motherhood. Also on the rise: blended families, and families with two moms or two dads. Young families ARE indeed becoming more diverse and more complex than the traditional mom + dad + two kids image many of us grew up with, and that will not change in the future. 

Schools and teachers could make use of Mother’s and Father’s Day to sit down with their pupils and dive into diversity. Is there a deceased parent that could be remembered? Who’s also playing an important role in the family, apart from mom or dad? Who else does a child wants to celebrate? Mom’s best friend? The neighbour? An uncle? And maybe there’s no one to celebrate, which is something schools should know about their pupils.

If there’s one thing that is important to youngsters, it is hat they can open up and be who they are. Most of them don’t live the traditional family life, and they won’t in the future. 

We acknowledge that it takes time for schools, teachers, and society, to adjust to the changing family structures. Rethinking the essence of Mother’s and Father’s Day, instead of banning them, might help.

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