NEWS OPINION

Why National Son and Daughter Day Isn't For Everyone

illustration of a child standing on a calendar with "national son and daughter day" circled in pink and blue

Verywell / Tara Anand

From the moment a pregnancy is confirmed, new parents are bombarded by gendered everything: onesies in pink and blue, gender reveal parties, and social media pressures on increasingly popular "holidays" like “National Son and Daughter Day.” 

This highly visible national day takes place every year on August 11. But not every child identifies as a “son” or “daughter,” and not every parent identifies as a “mom” or “dad.”

Some children or adolescents might be genderqueer, agender, non-binary, or gender fluid. With the pressure to conform (and to post glossy, edited, Instagram-ready photos) at such a fever pitch, what is a family to do if they don’t neatly fall into these highly socialized gender bounds?

What If Someone Doesn't Identify as a Son or Daughter?

I can still recall the feeling of opening Instagram, my newborn at my breast, and being told by some influencer that it was National Daughter Day. At the time, I had not yet come out as non-binary, but it still set my teeth on edge. New mothers in particular bear the brunt of the societal pressure to "perform" motherhood. One study even concluded that 82% of the new mothers polled frequently compare themselves to other moms online.

I remember rolling out of bed, slapping on the requisite makeup, and posing for a selfie with my milk-drunk baby. I tagged #NationalDaughterDay and stared down at my first child’s small face, wondering if I’d made the right decision. What if she regretted this one day? What if I did? What if she grew up and didn’t identify as a girl, and told me that my posting this photo of her on National Daughter Day made her uncomfortable?

I wondered what it said about me as a new parent, that I had made this choice for her, not with her.

Jami Dumler, LCSW, and behavioral therapy provider at Thriveworks explains, “For non-binary children, gendered holidays may leave some feeling left out since they don't identify in either ‘box.’ For trans children, gendered holidays may be a trigger for dysphoria or leave them vulnerable to inappropriate comments from non-supporting peers and adults in their life.”

This raises the question of the impact these holidays can have on our children—and what we can do about it. With that, it’s important to acknowledge that National Son and Daughter Day is a lovely celebration for some families, but might not be right for every family.

Are National "Days" Just Social Media Events?

While these national "days" can be fun, they also can put pressure on parents. A recent Pew Research Center study suggests that 72% of Americans in the U.S. use social media. Experts have been noting for years that social media may play a role in depression, partially because it can inspire ‘FOMO' (or fear of missing out) when a user’s lived experience is less than the perfection and simplicity they see on a screen.

Dumler points out that while social media can be a force for good, it can also lead to “dysphoria and struggles with body image" for some.

For those who might be questioning their identity, social media can certainly create a sense of community, but it also can breed anxiety. Kiana Shelton, LCSW and clinical provider at Mindpath Heath, notes that social media can “create anticipatory stress, as seeing negative feedback online can prevent one from moving forward with their plan to come out," adding that being online can intensify feelings of fear surrounding how one might be seen by the world.

How to Talk About National Son and Daughter Day With Your Children

Stepping away from the performative nature of social media can help foster connection with your children, and increases the amount of authentic, centering experiences around gender. When your children see posts about National Son and Daughter Day, you can meet them with questions about how the gender binary feels for them—in an age-appropriate manner, of course.

“For parents that have come to support and celebrate their child's decision, they have a great opportunity to show that support by celebrating the holiday how—and with what title—the child would like,” Dumler says. “What a great moment for them to connect!” 

Asking your children what fits them can make them feel heard and seen—and allows them to acknowledge their unique gender experiences as a family.

“When caregivers can support children in their questioning and trialing phases, it gives them the freedom to explore, knowing that they can come back to a safe ‘home base’ no matter the outcome,” Dumler confirms.

How to Celebrate Your Child

National Son and Daughter day might leave your non-binary or trans child feeling left out, or worrying that they don't deserve to be celebrated. “In many ways, these gendered holidays are a reminder of this conflict, and it can be frustrating,” Shelton says.

Shelton provides three ways to support your child through this process:

First, find holidays that align with your family. While exclusive holidays tend to show up in our faces a little louder, there are many national days that tailor to our individuality. For example, July 14 is International Non-Binary People's Day. March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Next, look for community. Whether it’s online or with a local LGBTQ+ organization, finding a sense of community can make those reductive holidays and societal practices feel less isolating.

Last, affirm your identity—and affirm the identities of the loved ones around you. This can range from expression of pronouns to learning about historical pioneers in the trans, non-binary, and/or queer communities. 

Dumler adds, “Children can call and speak to a trained support specialist through the Trevor Project, which provides 24/7 support for LGBTQIA+ youth through phone, text, or chat. There are also multiple support groups they can seek out online.”

While moving through my own non-binary experience as a parent, I have learned ways to celebrate my unique understanding of gender. One of the ways our family learns best is through reading, and we have made great use of the Human Rights Campaign’s list of Diverse Children’s Books. My children have several of these books, and the dialogue about gender, marriage, and the differences between families is always open.

A Word from Verywell

Social media and viral holidays like National Son and Daughter Day can be challenging for families with trans or non-binary children—or parents. Understanding the impact of social media on your family and developing your own holidays and traditions with gender can help celebrate you and your child’s uniqueness.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Refinery29. How 500 canadian women feel about motherhood & social media.

  2. Pew Research Center. Social media fact sheet.

  3. Pantic I. Online social networking and mental healthCyberpsychol, Behav Soc Netwrk. 2014;17(10):652-657. doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0070

  4. Human Rights Campaign. Celebrating the diversity of the non-binary community for international non-binary day.

  5. GLSEN. Transgender day of visibility.

  6. Human Rights Campaign. Best diverse children’s books with transgender, non-binary and gender expansive characters.

By Taylor Grothe
Taylor is a freelance writer, fiction author, and a nonbinary parent to two little children, ages five and three. Their fiction work can be found in Bag of Bones Press and Coffin Bell Journal, and their first novel is on submission to major publishing houses.