Many of us have just enjoyed a Father’s day celebration. Father’s Day was started by a woman, Sonora Smart Dodd, who was raised by a single dad, William Smart. He was the sole parent to Sonora and her five brothers after their mother died during childbirth. The first Father’s Day celebration was Sunday, June 19, 1910. But it wasn’t until President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day in 1966 and President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of the day in 1972, that Father’s Day became “official.”
For moms, Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day”. However, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.
So why did it take 58 years longer (than Mother’s Day) to make Father’s Day official?
This is a result of a society that has intentionally diminished the role and importance of fathers. It’s created an environment where many dads quietly (but unhappily) take the back seat when it comes to parenting. We’re told by TV, media, and sometimes by the women in our lives that we aren’t equipped (or smart enough) to do it. Hollywood has been delivering that negative message about men as fathers since silent movies. Just read this review I wrote about a movie with Meryl Streep, “Ricki and the Flash? Hollywood Tosses Dad Like Trash.”
As many of you know, being a father has been a driving force in my life over the past 30 years. It was almost exactly 20 years when the mother of my 5 kids left us – never to return. I was scared, lonely, bankrupt and I thought all was lost. After all, what does a dad know about raising kids? It turns out, I knew enough to (with blessings from above) raise 5 little kiddies into happy, kind-hearted and successful adults. And there’s nothing extraordinary about me. The potential to be a great parent exists in the heart and mind of every man.
So, I call on everyone to recognize that fathers aren’t the 2nd parent anymore. Dads can be equal parents; they are every bit as capable and love their kids just as much as moms do! And this new view of fathers should have far-reaching effect: in media, in entertainment, in the law for family leave, in the courtroom for custody cases, and in the minds of men everywhere – who should know fatherhood is a blessing, a responsibility and something every man is 100% capable of doing – at least as well as any mom.
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