When Father’s Day Hurts

A Special Message for Brokenhearted Dads

By Tom and Dena Yohe



Father’s Day is today. Are you a dad with a broken heart? Is it weighed down with pain, worry, fear, and rejection? If so, Father’s Day can be hard. Positive memories from when your son or daughter was young and innocent flood your mind. Negative memories and their associated emotions overwhelm you.

Men tend to hide their emotions, but this is different. Tears are close to the surface 24/7. Oh God, please don’t let anyone ask me about ________, or how I’m doing. There’s a lump in your throat—but you hold back those salty rivers. You can’t let anyone see you cry. You’re a macho man, right? Besides, if you let them come, you might not be able to stop those salty rivers.

Can’t I get a free pass for Father’s Day? you wonder. Most of your friends have plans with their families. How you envy them. Their children enjoy being with them: cookouts, camping and fishing trips, beach or boat outings, theme parks, gifts, dinners . . . except for you. Perhaps you have other children who will be thoughtful, but not them—the one you ache over and can’t stop thinking about.

“What are you doing for Father’s Day?” Change the subject as fast as possible. Hope they don’t notice your avoidance maneuver.

On Monday, co-workers will most likely inquire, “How was your Father’s Day?” That’s the open door for you to brag on how loving your children were. Everything in you wants to slam that door and run. A made-up response slips from your lips as you slink away with a fake smile on your face.

You’d give anything to be reconciled to your child or just hear their voice.

Some of you don’t even know if they’re alive. It’s agony.

I remember how difficult Father’s Day could be for my husband. If he didn’t hear from our daughter my heart would ache for him. At first he tried not show his true feelings, but it was hard to hide them. Knowing he was in pain hurt me, too.

The day became a bitter reminder of what he didn’t have anymore—of the one who was missing. It made him long for the past when our daughter wanted to be with him. When he was her hero.

Can you remember those days? What happened to our beloved children?

Drugs and alcohol happened.

Bad friends happened.

Depression and self-injury happened.

Suicide attempts happened.

Arrests and jail time happened.

Rebellion happened.

Lying and cruel, wounding words happened.

Same-Sex attraction and pornography happened.

Anger and resentment happened.

Everything changed.

Nothing’s the same anymore.

Hurting dad, I hope your son or daughter will at least call to wish you a Happy Father’s Day, even if they aren’t ready to say “I love you”. But if not, remember this is just one chapter in their life. It’s not the end of the story—not yet.

Like in the parable Jesus told about the Lost Son (Luke 15: 11-32), there’s always hope.


One day your child could come to their senses, do a turn-about and be restored. Next month they could come to you and say, “I love you, dad. Please forgive me. I’m sorry I’ve been such a jerk.”

However, you may not hear those words next month. The wait could be long. You might wonder if it will ever end.

When I was on the verge of despair, a wise friend said, “As long as your child’s still breathing, there’s still hope!”

Dear dad, step-dad or grandpa, keep on keeping on. Don’t throw in the towel and walk away. Don’t despair or quit praying. Trust God and learn how to fight for their lives on your knees. Thank him for what you do have to be grateful for. Get busy helping someone else to take the focus off your situation. Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to worry and never give up. You have no idea what Father’s Day next year could bring.

I really like this Bible verse. It gives me a tremendous amount of hope:

“This land that was laid waste has become like the Garden of Eden” (Ezekiel 36:35).

Anything is possible.

And two great books that offer hope in life’s trials are Holding on to Hope and The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.


Heavenly Father, comfort every hurting, disillusioned dad who reads this today. Remind him that you see his pain. You understand and you care. Renew his hope that better days may be ahead. But if not, help him continue to trust, pray with faith, and keep his eyes on you. With you anything can happen. A ruined life can become something beautiful again.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Dena is co-founder of Hope For Hurting Parents and is affiliate staff with CRU. You can follow her blog or sign up for her encouraging emails on their website: click here

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