Let’s Give Father’s Day its Due

The buzz around Mother’s Day drowns out that of Father’s Day by a long shot.

As we approach the time of year designated for celebrating the role dads play in children’s lives, I began to wonder why that is. Does a father’s job not warrant the same recognition? Does it not hold the same value as a mother’s?

A mother’s job is big; it even sparked a recent campaign around the idea that it’s the world’s toughest job. But how do we describe a father’s job? The definition is typically lacking detail and receives far less attention, save for when a dad does something moms have done since the beginning of time (change a diaper, for instance) or when they reach deadbeat status.

Essentially, a father’s job is to love, educate and support their children. Beyond that, the role can become a bit murky with dads taking a back seat when it comes to parenthood. Sometimes that’s by choice. Other times, I think society could do a better job of holding up a higher standard. Either way, the definition of a father’s job is evolving.

When that whole being a mom is the world’s toughest job thing came about, I asked my 8-year-old daughter what she thought the job entailed.

She answered: “Making sure your kids are healthy and get what they need and do the things they need to do to, you know, be successful.”

Then I asked her what a dad’s job is.

“The same thing. The mom and the dad work together to do the same job.”

I wondered, how many kids would see a dad’s role the same way?

Certainly more than when I was a teen in the 1980s. Since then, the number of U.S. fathers who are staying at home has nearly doubled for various reasons. The findings were said to underscore experts’ belief that gender roles between men and women were converging, with men taking on more care giving tasks and women increasingly breadwinners.

What’s more, a sign of convergence is that the amount of time that fathers are spending with their children has tripled in the same timeframe.

Despite this, Father’s Day can feel like an afterthought compared to Mother’s Day.

Indeed, Father’s Day was established after Mother’s Day. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge approved of the national holiday recognizing fathers as a way to “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

Today, I like to think of fathers as doing far more than fulfilling an obligation. And I agree with John McCormick. He writes, “Let’s make this Father’s Day a real celebration of fatherhood, one befitting dad’s more prominent parenting role in the family and honoring the contributions fathers make every day to the lives of their children.”

Image by Kwanie via Flickr /  CC 2.0

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