Updated: Jun 15, 2021
As many of us are preparing to honor our dads on Father’s Day, we may find ourselves trying to decide which gift to give him - another tie, a cordless drill, fishing gear, cologne or mustache wax. This might be a good time to reflect upon what Father’s Day really means in America today.
Although Mother’s Day was officially recognized by the US government as an official holiday in 1914, Father’s Day was not declared a permanent national holiday until 1972.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone
could give another person. He believed in me.”
Before the ubiquitous cell phone, the busiest day for long distance calls according to Ma Bell was Mother’s Day. The busiest day of the year for collect long distance calls was Father’s Day.
“My mother protected me from the world
and my father threatened me with it.”
A survey of drug stores and stationery shops found that the vast majority of Mother’s Day cards were appreciative, loving in focus and used affirming language. That same study found that the majority of Father’s Day cards were based upon images of a beer mug, a recliner, golf, a TV remote, a caveman, a hapless handyman or a fart joke.
“To the world you might be one man, but
to one child you might be the world.”
A few years ago, a large church in Phoenix sponsored a baby shower that would offer prizes, gifts and displays of resources for new moms. I called the director to request that we set up a display table with resources for new dads. Her response was that the baby shower was only for moms. No dads were invited;
“There is a hole in the soul of every child
in the shape of their absent father.”
A few years ago, when Diane Sawyer reported that Prince William was “babysitting” for his new son, I tried to point out to her and others that dads do not babysit for our children. We raise our children. We nurture them.
When my young son brought his infant daughter to the emergency room because she had a severe ear ache, the medical staff asked him for proof that she was his daughter before they would treat her. He had no proof. When I arrived and asked the same staff if they asked this of young mothers, they admitted they did not.
“Being a daddy’s girl is like having permanent
armor for the rest of your life.”
When I flew into Toronto Ontario with my six-year-old daughter to present at a fathers’ conference, I was asked by authorities if her mother knew I was taking her out of the US. I asked if they asked mothers the same question about a child’s father. They did not.
“My father didn’t tell me how to live.
He lived and let me watch him do it.”
It is apparent that when inadvertent barriers to father involvement are reduced, fathers engage more in the lives of their children, their families, their schools, their neighborhoods and their communities. When we expect dads to be part of the solution, they are less likely to be part of the problem.
“A father’s words are like a thermostat
that sets the temperature in the home."
One way to accomplish this is by creating and maintaining more father-friendly environments. Is your organization, business or workplace father-friendly? Are your policies and procedures father-inclusive?
Another is to seek community resources that strengthen families and help families stay together, such as NAFFA. We offer three curricula whose method is uplifting, encouraging, assisting and teaching responsible parenting.
“Small boys become big men through the influence
of big men who care about small boys.”
As we celebrate Father’s Day, let us honor those men who have enriched our family lives and explore more ways to encourage more men to be the kind of father their children need.
“Great fathers don’t find fault.
Great fathers find solutions.”
- Neil Tift, NAFFA Outreach Project Coordinator