If you’re reading this on Father’s Day, you might wonder where this holiday came from. Not the Bible, not the Constitution, not your parents’ marriage license. That’s for sure. Historically Mother’s Day antedates it by more than half a century. Reasons for that fact include the bitter truth that we always know who a child’s mother is. Not necessarily who the father is. Be that as it may, we’ve been raised to honor our mothers every year in May. If we are sincere about it, we extend that process. The woman who raised us has every right to our love, our care and our honor on Mothers Day, ever since the early 1900’s. Fathers Day became a US national holiday only in 1972. Why the delay?
Early 20th century fathers tended more often to be the ruling – and punishing — heads of households and families, rather than doting parents. If a child wore out a mother’s patience she would warn: “Wait till your father gets home.”
Interesting how neither of these family holidays is scheduled for a specific date. It’s the second Sunday in May or the third Sunday in June. Parents are expected to work, and a weekend day is free time. Even now, weekdays don’t qualify. It’s not 4th of July, not New Years Day, not Thanksgiving. Just a good occasion to brighten up a chosen Sunday.
Witnessing today’s widespread family problems, we may well wonder how those will affect these once-happy days. Certainly someone born of a single mother, someone who doesn’t even know a father’s name, someone whose parents were divorced, often re-married – none of the offspring can be condemned if they feel uncomfortable with Father’s Day.
So whose day is it? As a father of adult daughters and sons who do valuable work, gave me fine grandchildren, and have positive relations with other human beings, I want to give them preference. I have no doubt that other fathers have similar attitudes. These members of our younger generation made us what we are. Fathers Day belongs to them!