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Father's Day from two perspectives
By Jeremy Reynalds
Unjustly or not, I think that sometimes dads feel cheated when it comes to Father's Day. It seems to play second fiddle to mother's day. Here's some interesting information I found (www.menstuff.org) comparing the two days:
"Mother's Day is about heartstrings. Father's Day is about hardware and last-minute shopping. Father's Day is less revered: not planned as far ahead, less time is spent together as a family and gifts are chintzier. Mother's Day -150 million cards sold. Father's Day, a Hallmark afterthought, sees less than 95 million. While Mother's Day racks 150 million phone calls, Father's Day has 140 million but holds the title for most calls placed collect. Mother's Day ranks as the number one holiday for wired flowers with 23 percent of all holiday floral sales. Father's Day gets beat out by such bloom-crazy events as Thanksgiving. Statistically, men are more likely to get flowers at their funeral than for Father's Day. Mother's Day is the biggest brunch day of the year and a bigger dining out day than Valentine's Day with 38 percent of adults eating out. Father's Day sees 23 percent of adults eating out. It is a bigger day on the golf links which tend to attract a mix of all-male foursomes, couples and dads with kids. Top gift for mom - clothing. Top gift for dad - one of 8 million neckties sold for the occasion. Happy Father's Dad, anyway, dad!"
So do we really need to honor fathers, or is the day just a slightly less commercially successful version of mother's day, considered by some cynics to be nothing more than an ingenious way to make card companies and other businesses rich? With the celebration being just a few days away, I decided to find out what some people are saying about dads.
The America Online bulletin boards are usually a good source of commentary, but at the time of writing there were only three comments. One gutwrenching post read:
"My dad committed suicide when I was just a little kid. Actually I was only 12. I remember a little about him, but not all was good. The good stuff sticks out, and is pretty much all I really would like to remember. I remember a time, when I was only 9, that my dad taught me to drive a standard pick-up truck. He got a tractor stuck in a ditch on the church grounds that we were working on and expected me to pull him out. To say the least, I did pull him out, but I burned the clutch up in truck. Looking back now, it taught me a one good thing about vehicles. DON'T abuse them!!!"
One heartwarming comment read:
"My Dad and I might not live in the same house or get the chance to see each other as much as we would like, but that doesn't stop me from thinking that he is the best man on earth. I love everything about my Dad. He is a wonderful person to have in my life. I love to play basketball with him in the driveway. He always lifts me up so I can reach the basket. I am still young now and can't wait until my dad can teach me to do all the things in life I have yet to learn. He loves my mom and Me (sic) a lot as we love him just as much if not more in return. No matter what happens in the future I will always have a spot in my heart for my daddy!"
And with the abundance of blended families in today's culture, here's a comment that should speak to many people.
"My dad is a great man. He has taken me in when he did not have to. he supported my family even though he did not have to. He has taught me good ethics. He is wounderful (sic). He has supported me through out every thing I have put him through. he has been there when I needed him the most. I don't look at him as a step father.' He is my daddy. He has gone through thick and thin with me. I love him with all my heart and could not have asked for a better father and that is exactly what he is, my father. I must have done something good in my life for god (sic) to have sent him to me. I love you dad."
Some folk staying at Joy Junction, the homeless shelter I founded and direct, had incredibly touching things to say about their dad. One woman wrote:
"My daddy is the impossible standard that no other man could ever achieve. He has been a role model, friend and the rock I can always lean on. As I look ... back ... I realize ... that daddy was always there whenever anything important happened in my life. He actively took part in all the ages and stages of my life. He taught me to fish, hunt, call squirrels, drive a tractor, raise a garden, care for livestock, run a chainsaw, use power tools and most of the skills I consider most valuable ..."
Someone else wrote, "My dad is the best ... I love him very much and my borther (sic) does to (sic). He is the best dad we ever have in the hole (sic) wide world. He gets me lots of presant (sic) ... and he gets presants (sic) for me and my borther's birtherday (sic).
Another person wrote:
"My dad is one of the greatest dads in the whole wide world. He loves to play with me, makes me laugh and holds and comforts me when I'm crying and in pain. My dad is also cool ... I ... love to spend time with him like to go to the movies and to the store to help pick out things for us and have money left over to get what I need or get something to eat. So that way we can share it together ... My father is one of the happiest fathers to have a son like me."
It used to be beyond dispute that children need a father. Sadly, but not surprisingly, some of the liberal academic elite don't agree with that. In a 1999 study by Yeshiva University faculty members Louise B. Silverstein and Carl F. Auerbach titled "Deconstructing the Essential Father" the authors studied 200 fathers and concluded that fathering as we have traditionally understood it is "neoconservative," and that "the empirical literature does not support the idea that fathers make a unique and essential contribution to child development."
However, as a staff writer from the Family Research Council commented in 2001 on the organization's web site, "This flies in the face of over 20 years of research that shows the negative impact on children of a lack of fathering."
Not content with just posturing the academic doublespeak I've quoted above the authors of this study also claimed that they were unable to find "any empirical support that marriage enhances fathering or that marriage civilizes men and protects children." (Tell that to the young man whose dad holds and comforts him when he's crying and in pain!)
However, as the Family Research Council again so succinctly pointed out, this study "contradicts mountains of research conducted over the past two decades that concludes just the opposite."
Bearing in mind the unique contribution that fathers make in the lives of their children, it seems appropriate that we should have a special day honoring dads. But where did the celebration of Father's Day come from? According to information contained on a now unavailable web site, (www.wilstar.com), it was Sonora Dodd (a person and not a greeting card company!) who first conceived the idea of Father's Day after listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909.
Dodd thought it would be good to have a special day of celebration to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran. Smart's wife died while giving birth to the couple's sixth child. As a result, Smart was left to raise the newborn, along with his other five children, by himself. In Dodd's eyes, "It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was ... a courageous, selfless, and loving man."
There were some additional details about the history of the celebration on www.thefamilycorner.com. While the original date chosen for the holiday was June 5, Mr. Smart's birthday, the celebration was postponed until June 19, the third Sunday in June, because there was not enough time to prepare.
And although in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father's Day, it did not become official until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the presidential proclamation decreeing the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.
Happily, President George W. Bush also realizes the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. In a speech last year, he encouraged all fathers, but particularly those divorced or living apart from the mother, to become more involved in their children's lives. In that speech Bush said ever since the birth of his children, that the title of "Dad" is the most important one he has ever had.
So what are you supposed to do on Father's Day? Well, the event was described on menstuff.org as "A time to give love and thanks to all fathers, grand fathers, great grand fathers; a day for all fathers to celebrate fatherhood and contemplate their sacred duty to provide for the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs of their children and the other children of this world."
At Joy Junction, we'll be doing something special for Father's Day and helping dads realized how important they are in the lives of their children. But whatever you end up doing, enjoy your kids this Father's Day and let them enjoy you. And as you go through the day, I encourage you to reflect whether you too can say along with President Bush that "Dad" is the most important title you have ever had.
Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director
of Joy Junction,
New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree
in communication from the University of New Mexico and is pursuing his
PhD in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He
is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His
work can be viewed here and weekly at www.americasvoices.org. He may be
contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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