A mother of two Nanoose Bay Elementary School students, was disappointed recently to learn she wouldn’t be receiving a made-at-school craft or card for Mother’s Day from her first grader.
She first learned of the decision from her daughter’s teacher through an email. The email stated, according to Marie Mackenzie, that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day would be celebrated during a single combined event in June, and for parents to plan accordingly since there wouldn’t be any crafts or cards sent home.
She found the decision not to celebrate Mother’s Day “along with the rest of the world” confusing.
In talks with the school’s principal, she learned the choice was made to show sensitivity towards families that may not have mothers or fathers.
“As far as I can remember, we’ve always celebrated those really important roles in the family,” said Mackenzie. “And I just am not happy with their reasoning around it. Nor am I happy that they didn’t ask us.”
“It has been for a few years now, where teachers have been exercising their professional autonomy around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day,” said Dr. Keven Elder, superintendent for School District 69 (Qualicum). “Most classes are choosing to celebrate family at some point in between those two days, or at some other time. But they do find some other way to celebrate family rather than focusing on mothers and fathers.”
The choice is often made with the emotional well-being of all students in mind, Elder continued, noting it can be traumatic if a child doesn’t have a mother or father.
”For reasons that are clear, in terms of children whose parents may have recently died, or children who are living in foster care, or children who are living with grandparents. And teachers respect that by saying, let’s find a different way to celebrate family and not expect all children to embrace creating something special for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day when that may trigger some really strong responses.”
To Mackenzie, recognition of a mother figure on Mother’s Day is worth celebrating.
“If we start combining everybody into one day and cushioning all of these kids because they may not have a mother, well that’s not really teaching true life. True life is that sometimes kids don’t have mothers and that’s OK,” she said.
Mothers have one of the most important roles in society, she continued, and to celebrate a role model that provides influence and protection adds value to that role from the child’s perspective.