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« In the Swing of Things (Toben) | Main | Facebook Fast II (Toben) »


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I did not call it that but I admit once a semester, I had a special day with each of my kids (3), and now that they are adults, I feel it is even more important, so my husband and I take turns having special outings with our children. This week I went shopping and early dinner with my son, next week, hubby will go to a ball game with him. and so it goes. It is a connection that they have grown accustomed to. It is very important. Over the years, the kids have shared things on these outings I would never have known. I don't think this is wrong as long as it is not habitual and they are not using the days to get out of their schoolwork but a connection time.


That's really a new way of thinking for me Toben. I'm 68 and wasn't even a possibility when I was in school, and was not really for my kids either. Although I suspect I didn't monitor their mental health quite as acutely as parents do today. Especially if the reason is what you say...the student is doing well academically, and the parent is really communicating with the child. I agree also with comment #1 about the alone time with each kiddo, and you already do that so well.

ANd about FB, your trial went well. 15 is a good limit. Try it! If you can discipline yourself (set a timer in the beginning) and you can always take another stance if it gets out of hand.

You two are doing a great job! With all the stressors of the last 1-3/4 are winners in MY book!



I was raised where mental health days or "me" days were okay. Sometimes those days consisted of sleeping the day away. Other times it was a shopping trip with my Mom. I learned to evaluate my mental and physical health and know when I needed to stop. This is definately something that I will do with my daughter (and any other children God gives us). I often wish I had the ability to take more mental health days from my current corporate job. Because I don't, I make sure I have a few minutes of downtime each night and we generally have low key family weekends.


I am totally down with it! I love to surprise my kids with saying, let's get out of school early today and get doughnuts...or a movie...or ice cream...or gas station slurpees....or whatever. It maybe happens 1-3 times per year...depending on the home stresses, school performance, and general season in life. It has always blessed us and I'm one for thinking outside the is important, but breaks in the routine are priceless! Kudos to you for daddy radar!


I'm in favor of them. They were VERY rare in my family, but my Mom did allow them. The caveat we had was that our grades had to be decent enough - in other words, passing. Even straight C's could get you a day off every once in a while.... but if you were failing you had to go. It was good incentive to keep up the grades. I FULLY intend on doing it with my son (and future kiddos) because honestly? Public school is tough. And the tough part isn't always the actual education. So mental health days are, to my family, absolutely essential. Good for you for embracing them.

Julie Reynolds

I so wish that someone had told me about this idea when my children were in school. My son would have truly benefited from this, instead he struggled and felt as if he was incapable of doing anything right in the school arena because he was always just a little overwhelmed. I think this is a wonderful gift to give your children.

Linda Hughes

I love the idea of mental health day! I didn't have that growing up and my kids didn't either. It would have been appreciated by all of us. You are a wonderful "listening" dad, they will never forget you took time to hear them.
God Bless,


everyone needs a mental health day now and then. I think 2 to 4 a semester is fine but after that it's kind of a problem. I allowed my son to have mental health days when he was in high school.I think it allows them to get the sleep they need and to get back on track.


I work in a public high school in the counselor's office. Yesterday a girl came in who I have helped in the past few years. It was just before school. She opened her mouth to ask a question and dissolved into tears. I sat her on the couch and held her hand and called her 1st per teacher to say, 'she is here' and just let her be. Sometimes it feels like too much and that is okay. I think you are a wise father. You are teaching Rest which is a deep spiritual principle that is tied into entrusting ourselves completely to the One who holds it all together. Be still and Know. It is love to allow someone to stop and receive.


you are wise. I wish I had spent more time with my grown kids even if it was when they were tucked into their beds in our home...doesn't matter if it is day or nighttime and it doesn't matter what age they are. they are there with you and Joanne

kami from canada

I'm a 38 year old Mom of 3, and I grew up having Mental health days! We even called them exactly that. I was allowed 4 days per school year, but I think that would have been flexible if needed. It was something we openly talked about, and as a kid, knowing I could take a MHD sometimes gave me the energy to get up and go in order to "save" it for a later date...maybe when I needed it more. At other times, I absolutely knew I needed to take it and I was so grateful I was allowed to and even encouraged to. It gave me a sense of control over my own well-being. Now, I allow my own children the same thing.


We had mental health days too! They were also called that as well. We were allowed 1-2 per semester and we generally never needed more than that but mom was flexible. High school I'm sure I would have been allowed a few but I hated missing a day! Missing a day meant lots of homework I didn't wish to do. I love the idea though, definitely keeping this rule when I have kids!

Beth in the City

We have had these as needed but never as often as what I'm seeing suggested here. I'm going to keep this in mind as a great strategy. I feel like the educational pressure here on the east coast is intense and this could be the perfect way to keep it in perspective. School IS important. But it is not the only important thing. Rest, connection, feeling cared for...these are all important. My daughter's school is a smaller Christian school and does a great job of thinking of the whole child. They had a teacher in-service day this past week and it was the perfect opportunity for some R&R. Thanks for sharing.

Kim Feth

Toben, It sounds like you picked a day of good timing. Rest is both spiritual and Biblical. When it allows a teen to rest and connect at a deeper level with. Parent, it's a win on every front. I believe in MHDs for kids of all ages - including those in their 30's and 40's.
Kim Feth
Apex, NC

Janet S.

My outlook is different from others who have posted comments.
Here in NY state every public school absence must be accompanied by a written excuse, and those excuses are kept on file in case of a state inspection. If a parent says, "This was a mental health day for so-and-so," it would count as an unexcused absence. And I believe as a Christian you shouldn't lie and make up an excuse of illness for your child.
Currently retired, I taught in public schools for 35 years and never took a "mental health day;" my contract allowed my absence only in case of sickness or a personal business day with prior approval, so I couldn't take a MHD without lying.
My 2 children likewise have never taken a MHD from school; I taught them that school was their job, and they needed to be as responsible as possible in their work ethics.


I'm not sure if this comment will be duplicated since I just tried to post it, but it wouldn't post. I will try again.

While I have always told my kids that school is their job, and they need to make it their priority, I have learned with my daughter that a mental health day is necessary, if only to keep stress from turning into a physical illness.

When I worked full-time, I occasionally took a mh day when the stress was overwhelming. I wish I had remembered this when my son was in school.

With my daughter, we have never used it to go anywhere. I guess I would have a problem with that. We have used it to rest, talk together, do homework, simply de-stress. It is a gift to her, and it is used rarely.

We haven't used one this year, but the key as parents is to keep communication open, to know when the stress is building up and teach them ways to care for themselves. School is very important, but not at the expense of their health. I don't feel I'm lying when I call the school. Stress and exhaustion can easily turn into more serious sicknesses, both physical and mental. Too bad mental health is not seen as important as physical health.

Toben, you are doing great--Audrey has been under a lot of stress with all the changes your family has undergone. You have gotten her the help she needs, and I believe the Holy Spirit is guiding you as you parent these girls. I hope you feel encouraged by everyone. Sometimes you have had to function as both dad and mom these days. Trust your maternal intuition (which, of course, for a believer is the Holy Spirit). I will continue to pray for you and Joanne as you navigate these uncharted waters together.

Karene in So. Calif.


LOL, I can easily picture my parents' reaction if my brother or I had asked for a "mental health day". They would have give us lecture #493 about the value of an education and sent us off to school!

I did occasionally allow my own children a "mental health day" but it had to be for a good reason and not just because they wanted to postpone taking a test.

All parents must decide what is best for their children, and if a mental health day is called for, I say go ahead.


Absolutely, mental health days are necessary...especially for middle & high schoolers. You can tell when your kids need the break. When I was a child (back in the dark ages), parents were too concerned with perfect attendance. Early on in my daughter's education, a friend & I discussed MHD. I am convinced that the rest, recovery, conversation, & connection on those days was far more valuable than anything she missed at school that day! Your girls have handled more in their young years than many of us will handle in a lifetime. You & Joanne are doing a great job! Trust your gut!


As parents we know our children's needs. So while I may not call them "mental health days" or allow for a certain number of days per semester/year, etc., I do recognize when my children need a break. And yes, absolutely they get a day off. It is not a day to play. It is a day to rest and spend quality time together. As far as a school excuse (I live in AL and we too have to write an excuse or it is considered unexcused), I write that he/she was not feeling well. It doesn't state that they were sick when they weren't. It just implies they weren't 100% - which is true.

Heather McLeod

I allow those days and we take family vacations and I don't feel bad taking my kids out of school. I NEVER lie to the school I tell them exactly what we are doing and I am just fine with an unexcused absence because in the grand schemes of things what they will remember is the memories we made and the rest we allowed. I do believe that as long as it is done with parameters it is a great thing! I took mental health days when I worked job allowed so many days of time off and I took them! Good for you!!

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