Perhaps there is one in your life, a child who needs a father, or at least a father figure while his own might be away for an extended period of time. For children, the absence of a father is most apparent during the holiday season.

Children tend to dream within their means, sensing the financial strain and recognizing the fact that their mother is working as hard as humanly possible. They also know that Mom is the one who keeps the family functional, providing their every need. For this reason, some children may back away from asking Mom to stop long enough to have fun, for fear they might bother her.

At Christmas time, especially for these children, the truth is that any gift, no matter how expensive, will never replace an absent father. What children crave, at Christmas and throughout the year, is attention.

A true investment of quality time, from any caring adult, will carry a child much farther than the latest video game or electronic gadget. Here are a few ideas if there are fatherless children in your life:

  • Sporting events – A college or high school basketball game may be a brand new experience for a fatherless child. Even if he does not fully understand the rules of the game, the concessions, competitive atmosphere, and excitement in a place where a kid has permission to be noisy can turn into one of the best experiences of his or her life.
  • The local library – Most kids might think of this idea as being stupid, unless they see it modeled for them by a respected adult. Public libraries these days are hip and cool, with computer labs, a room just for children and a lounge with couches and chairs just for reading.  Whether you check out a book or not, spending a few hours at the library could open a new world for a child.
  • Service Projects – Take a child along as you serve others, either by delivering food to a soup kitchen or delivering clothing or books to a shelter or children’s home.  Children possess a natural ability to care for those around them, so tapping into that can help them form a great habit early on. They may not be aware that others in their own community might have needs that even they can help to meet. To a child who often feels as if he or she has nothing to offer, this builds a true sense of accomplishment in a very young mind.
  • Camping – Really any outdoor sport, such as fishing, hunting, throwing a football, shooting basketball, flying a kite or batting practice is less likely to take place in the life of a fatherless child. They want someone to show them how to do these things, to protect them in the process, and to applaud when they accomplish something athletic for the first time.
  • Outdoor events – Bundled up under a blanket to watch a local parade or walking through a life-size nativity or Christmas program creates a memory unlike any other. Add some hot chocolate and some great company underneath the crisp, open sky and the smiles come easily to both you and the children in your life.

It is the little things that matter most. The trend for adults and children alike is to remain glued to either a television screen or computer monitor for hours at a time. A direct result of this lifestyle is a sense of isolation. What a fatherless child really needs is a few hours with someone who cares enough to remind him what a neat person he is, to wrestle in the floor with him or to chase him through the woods for no reason at all. For girls, all it may take is a tea party with some stuffed animals, tickle fights in the floor, or an impromptu dance party.

In a world where a child is acutely aware of the grown-up problems that surround him, the permission to be silly in the midst of it might be the greatest gift of all.

Janet Morris Grimes 2010

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Janet Grimes

Janet is the author of The Parent's Guide to Uncluttering Your Home, scheduled to be released early in 2011 through Atlantic Publishing. She launched Abbandoned Ministries late in 2010, which leads others through her writing and speaking to seek God, as Abba, during times of abandonment. She currently writes monthly for Christian Woman Today, The Christian Pulse, the grief website Open to Hope, and Mamapedia. For additional information on Janet, visit her website at or

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