The180·The 180

Is Mother's Day too exclusive for the classroom?

Teachers in a B.C. school decided to stop making Mother's and Father's Day crafts with their students this year, in the interest of inclusivity. The 180's Christine Coulter, whose mother passed away when she was young, investigates if it's possible to celebrate moms and dads, without excluding anyone.
After a school in B.C. decided to stop making Mother's Day and Father's Day cards in the class, we decided to explore how this decision affects different people. (CBC)

This week, a school in Mission B.C. made headlines when some primary teachers sent home a letter informing parents their children would not be making Mother's or Father's Day cards at school.

The letter read, "In an effort to celebrate diversity, inclusivity and also nurture our students who are part of non-traditional families, we have decided to encourage those celebrations to take place at home."

A school official has since said that the teachers took this approach due to a trauma that had occurred at the school. Trauma is something segment producer, Christine Coulter can relate to having lost a parent at a young age.

She wanted to find out if there is a way where everyone can benefit from these holidays, without eliminating the cute crafts and homage to parents and/or guardians all together.

Willow Yamauchi recently became the guardian of her nephew after the loss of his parents. In order to make sure he was comfortable in school, she decided to take the matter into her own hands and approached his teachers about the issue.

I was worried this was going to be a trigger for him so when I met with his teacher, I asked if he wouldn't mind putting that [making Mother's day gifts] on hold and his teacher was totally cool with that and he understood it. I just think that my nephew might be okay with it, but I think I think it could also be really tough.- Willow Yamauchi

Yamauchi and her nephew are only one type of family who could benefit from the decision that the school in Mission has made.

CJ Rowe, executive director of Qmunity, B.C.'s Queer Resource Centre, says that this situation offers an opportunity to teach children about all sorts of diverse families.

I think this is an introduction of a really innovative approach. Nowadays we are actually actively recognizing that there are more than just a mother and father to any household. There are single parents, there are queer parents, there are youth in care who maybe don't have an adult that they want to celebrate in their lives...and I think these sorts of decisions are really recognizing the diversity in the family structures that are a part of our communities.- CJ Rowe

Claudia Wyler, who is a social worker and a single mother of two, says that while we should be respectful of all people's family situation, scrapping Mother's Day and Father's day crafts may not be the answer. Her kids have had positive experiences from acknowledging their family is different.

[My son's teacher] recognized that his father wasn't present in his life, and she encouraged him to still make a father's day card and to give it to his grandfather. My son was like 'No, I want to give it to my mom,' so instead of using the 'F' for father, he changed it to an 'M' and that stuck with him, and I still get 'Happy  Mather's  Day' cards from him and he's 18 now.- Claudia Wyler

Wyler's son was creative in his approach to a holiday he would normally be excluded from, but June Sanders, who is a teacher in B.C. says it's also up to teachers to be creative.

The approach that I take in my classroom that has worked for me is I don't necessarily see it in terms of Mother's Day or Father's Day, but rather in terms of gratitude. It's an opportunity for young people to say thank you to the people in their lives.- June Sanders

What do you think? Should kids make Mother's and Father's day crafts at school? Is there a way to do it without excluding children who may not have a mother or a father? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.