It’s Father’s Day this coming Sunday. If you are familiar with our safeguarding training, you’ll know that we spend some time thinking about times of the year and recurring events that do not necessarily bring happy memories for everyone. We aim to promote sensitivity in our services and good pastoral care for those who may be impacted. So amongst all the myriad of email offers that I receive every day from numerous suppliers of goods I will probably never, ever buy, I was intrigued to receive one that offered the option of not receiving Father’s Day offer information because they ‘know Father’s Day can be a sensitive time for some.’
Given my job, I immediately thought how foresighted this company was, as I’d never seen such a statement before. But on sharing this at home, it was suggested this initiative was more of a Covid thing in recognition of the parents of both genders who have died, probably prematurely, as a result of the pandemic. Evidently a number of companies have done this.
Whatever the reason for providing an opt-out, I think it was good that it was there. The company I noted was a speciality tea supplier, but neither of the two football clubs who bombard me with sartorial recommendations has applied this approach to their sales pitch. I don’t quite know what that says about tea drinkers or football fans and their safeguarding sensitivities but these are issues that transcend all social barriers as the footballer Ian Wright amply and movingly described in his documentary ‘Home Truths’ broadcast by the BBC last month. It’s well worth a watch on iPlayer if you missed it.
The church tends to make more of Mothering Sunday given its scheduling within Lent and its association with the mother church as a place of baptism. Its only since 1910 that Father’s Day has been widely recognised, and despite commercialism, churches have used it as an opportunity to reflect on fatherhood and what that means. Whether on Sunday we are live in church, or zooming in, I would hope that our preachers are alert to both the joy and pain that honouring fathers can bring.