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How to survive Father’s Day when you don’t have a good relationship with your father

As Father’s Day is right around the corner, many are wrapping up toolboxes in blue-colored wrapping paper and visiting the Father’s Day sale at their local Macy’s. But what about those of us who don’t have a good relationship with dad?

There’s no obligation to celebrate Father’s Day in its most traditional sense—with presents, home-baked goodies or “thank you’s.” It’s completely okay to, well, not be okay on Father’s Day. Here are five ways to survive Father’s Day if you don’t have a good relationship with your father.

Do not feel obligated to reach out.

I know the whole country is making an ordeal about giving thanks to dad right now—that’s okay for the lot who have an important father figure in their life. Yet just because everyone else is taking time to appreciate their father today, don’t feel obligated to reach out to yours (especially if he is undeserving of your thanks). If there is any time to be selfish, that time is now. Take care of you.

Quick tip: Turn your phone off for Father’s Day. Not only will this relieve your stress of feeling obligated to reach out, but it’ll stop you from seeing all those loving Father’s Day posts on social media.

Take time for self-care.

Speaking of taking care of yourself, focus on you this Father’s Day. It’s time to bust out the self-care toolkit. Whether that means grabbing your favorite take-out and watching a rom-com in your PJs or hitting the gym to relieve stress, remember to take time for self-care. A little bit of self-love can go a long way (and a little bit of distraction never hurts).

Quick tip: Check out this simple and helpful list of self-care ideas.

Spend time with loved ones.

Sometimes distracting yourself isn’t enough. Call a friend, hang out with your siblings (I’m sure they understand what you’re feeling, too), or cuddle up with your pet. Spending time with loved ones can distract you from any inner turmoil you may feel. On top of that, you’ll be able to let out your feelings—even if that means tearing up over a cup of coffee with your best friend. It’s completely okay to let others know how you feel today. You’re not alone!

Make it about the other father figures in your life.

You don’t have a strong father figure in your immediate family, but maybe you have an influential man somewhere not too far off. Give some of that love to the deserving men in your life—for me, that’s my grandfather. Father’s Day isn’t limited to biological dads; make today about the other father figures in your life.

Say thanks to mom instead.

Some of us really only had influential women in our life—and that’s okay, too. Some of us only had a mom who, more often than not, also played the “dad role.” If this is true for you, take today to say thanks to mom instead. If she raised you solo, I’m sure she deserves love and thanks on Father’s Day just as much as she does on Mother’s Day (double brownie-points!).

I know today is hard, especially when it’s focused on someone who was supposed to be one of the most important people in your life—the one who may have skipped out on being there. So, my tip to you: don’t worry about being there for him. Be there for you today. You’re more important than any Hallmark holiday.

Do Good:

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Alexandria Alejo

Alexandria Alejo is a writer based in Southern California.

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