Father’s Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day, something of which most of you are aware unless you’ve been hiding in a bunker or cut off from communication with the outside world. I started to write a Father’s Day piece for tomorrow, only to discover that what I set down was an almost verbatim reproduction of the piece I wrote last year. Perhaps this is just another sign of advancing age – loss of originality coupled with memory of what you had already said. Rather than bore you with a repeat of last year’s writing, here is another person’s take (from Minneapolis-St. Paul) on the value of fathers. Be well, and enjoy the day.

A Father’s Day message: We need dads 365 days a year


June 14, 2008

For fathers, it’s "the best of times and the worst of times."

So says the National Fatherhood Initiative of Gaithersburg, Md., echoing the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ "A Tale of Two Cities."

Today, many dads are more engaged than ever in their children’s lives. They put bread on the table, as their grandfathers did, but they also diaper the baby, coach soccer and help with birthday parties.

At the same time, father absence has hit record levels. About 25 million children — roughly one in three — are not living with their biological fathers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Until recent decades, fatherhood was one of the most venerated social institutions in America. But today it’s under assault. The reasons range from the sexual revolution and economic changes to the rise of the divorce culture. Sixties-era feminism also has played a role, with its view of men as expendable and of traditional sex roles as oppressive. If men and women are the same, who needs dad?

Now a mountain of social science evidence is confirming what our parents and great-grandparents understood: Dad’s presence is central to kids’ well-being. Children with involved fathers have lower rates of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and early sexual activity.

They also tend to have higher academic performance, greater self-control, more effective ways of dealing with frustration — even better wages and greater empathy as adults.

Both boys and girls benefit from their fathers’ involvement. Math competence in girls appears to be linked to early connections with the father. Daughters with engaged dads also tend to reach puberty later. Early onset of puberty is associated with higher rates of depression, teen pregnancy and alcohol consumption.

What’s so special about dad? Kyle Pruett of Yale University explains in his 2000 book, "Fatherneed."

Pruett points to differences in the ways that fathers and mothers discipline their offspring. Kids need both approaches, he says.

Moms tend to discipline by stressing the "relational and social costs" of bad behavior, writes Pruett. He uses the example of a mother whose young child pushes food on the floor. Her response is likely to be, "Do you ever think about how much work it is for me to clean up the mess when you throw your cereal?"

Dads, on the other hand, tend to focus on the "mechanical or societal consequences" of misbehavior. A typical fatherly response to a whining child is, "Don’t ask me for help if you aren’t willing to do your share."

Moms and dads also tend to play with kids differently. Mothers’ play is more toy-centered and instructional, whereas fathers encourage exploration and novelty-seeking. Dads love to wrestle and roughhouse. They can make even daily chores like dressing, bathing, diapering and bathing "more intensely physical and playful," writes Pruett.

In addition, fathers tend to encourage kids to master tasks on their own, while mothers are more likely to help a fretting child sooner. If a child is searching for the final ring for a tower, writes Pruett, mothers may push it into his or her reach, while fathers often wait, encouraging the child to work through the frustration and complete the task. When teaching kids to ride a bike, he adds, dads are more likely than moms to set a child back on the bike seat after a fall.

I’ve heard it summed up this way: When mothers see their young ones scrambling up a jungle gym, they tend to call out, "Be careful!" (I know I do.) Dad’s challenge is likely to be different: "Can you make it to the top?"

We need more "involved, responsible and committed" fathers. That’s the National Fatherhood Initiative’s mission. Its "24/7 Dad" program is used by hospitals, churches and even prisons to help dads develop communications, parenting and relationship skills.

How to jump-start father involvement? Dads need to be educated about the vital role they play in their children’s lives, says Vince Dicaro, spokesman for the Fatherhood Initiative. "The message is ‘Your kids need you,’ but many dads haven’t heard it."

The struggle to reengage fathers is related to a larger phenomenon — the loss of our traditional model of virtuous manhood. For 3,000 years, this tradition has taught that a real man is self-controlled, brave and prudent. Such a man defends and protects his loved ones, while also cherishing and respecting them.

A century ago, Theodore Roosevelt captured this vision of manhood while reflecting on his own father’s towering influence in his life: "I would have hated and dreaded beyond measure," he wrote, "to have him know that I had been guilty of a lie, or of cruelty, or of bullying, or of uncleanness, or of cowardice."

"Gradually," Roosevelt concluded, "I grew to have the feeling on my own account, and not merely on his."

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15 Responses to Father’s Day

  1. Beth says:

    This is an excellent article written by Ms Kersten.  Thank you for posting it.  I hope you have a very happy Father\’s Day!

  2. Eileen says:

    Happy Fathers Day!!

  3. Sarah says:

    Right on–Dad is critical to the wholistic development of any child.  Thanks for putting this here for everyone.  DADS!  THANK YOU!

  4. Nina says:

    Dads play such a critical and central role in their childs(ren\’s) lives! It breaks my heart when I have students without a father and I see their writing is all about him…but he is not there! If only he could read their stories and see their drawings. Then I have another student whose Dad just got out of jail, Dad fights with both his wife and kids. My student has told me several times, "My Dad is mean!" Luckily, I also see the caring and involved Dads at my school! They are a blessing!
    Happy Father\’s day to all of you Terrific Fathers out there! Great post! Thanks, N.

  5. Marge says:

    Thank you for your wise offering in this entry, Jorge; there is much to be learned from it.
    I wish you a happy Father\’s Day and assure you that you are respected by many of us in Spaces not only because someone in your life recognized the value of a strong, virtuous paternal presence, but you recognized it, too.
    Thank you for being one of those exemplary gentlemen whose friendship is so greatly appreciated.
    May you have a grand and glorious day!
    Ever your friend,

  6. Barb says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post.. Seems this Father\’s Day I am remembering lessons
    from my own father as well as mourning the loss of Tim Russert (MSNMc- Meet the Press) who
    past away Friday at the age of 58. 
    Tim openly expressed love ans the lessons of his father as well as being honored to be his son
    Luke\’s father, as he believed we stand on the shoulders of those before us to pass along the all
    to important lessons to the next generation. Lessons by example are a priceless gift…
    Thanks for dropping by hopefully my one arm stage will soon end:)
    Be Well

  7. Deborah says:

    As you know I lost my dad in Korea, so I took my big Sis out for a late brunch and bloody marys.  It was such a beautiful day.  Sorry about the Cal rant.  I forget how many wonderful Californians there are like you.  Besides it is not just Californians who have flocked to Washington, congesting traffic, clear cutting our once beautiful forests, and just over populating Western Washington.  It was so quiet when I was a girl, couldn\’t wait to move to Boston and see what a real city was like.  I can\’t blame people for wanting to live here, and the truth is, I really like people.  Tonight I am looking out the window behind my computer and there is a big yellow moon shining in over the lake.  I really can\’t complain.  Hope all your family is well.
    Blessed be

  8. Stephen Craig says:

    Jorge,  Thank you for visiting the Painting Studio and for your commets.  I did talk to Dad yesterday, though the conversation was brief it was meaningful.
    As ever be well,

  9. dawn says:

    hi Jorge, you had a great Father\’s day, i hope!  thing is, we tend to hero-worship our dads secretly? and so in that sense, its a tad hard to see him as an ordinary man…you guys have a lot to live up to  :P…my father, perfectly at homewith rare earth elements,loves Modigliani women

  10. Linda says:

    Hope you had a great Father\’s Day.  Its hard to come up with new stuff every year … I too suffer that.  Old age, yes!

  11. sweeti's says:

    well   First  abt  the Belgian Brewery…I know they are big…but i think they want  to be bigger..Dont know why  ..?
    well abt dads…
    i think No i believe  that  a child need both parents…and  as we all know  a man and woman  are different
    thats how we are…God  created us  Remember??
    women are more afraid for danger for their child..and as in ur  entry..Dads encourage  the children  to climb  and do  a bit 
    a lil brave  guy  stuff…haha.
    well  i like  ur entry  very much
    we had time  ago at office  a  healthy discussion abt  women  who dont need a husband  But they want a baby
    So the only guy  in our  section…was lIke   Hehehe  see…..She needs  sperm  ..So she cant without a man..lol
    and i had to admit…He WAS right.
    well  i love  dads  who take care  of their kids.  with love  and  smiling eyes…proud eyes.
    I think u  know what i mean
    I miss my dad….
    bye now
    and enjoy being a dad..Ur a proud one..i can feel…

  12. Mei's says:

    Thanks for your comment and you\’re right, unpredictability, happy things just around the corner-got a reply from my first application today – ward waitress in a hospital, invite me to attend an interview. WOW, I thought my bipolar scare them off. Anyway, nice to see you stopped by. Have a good day! Jorge.

  13. Jana says:

    We don\’t have father\’s day in Czech. Or at least I don\’t know about it and when I asked my dad is said: what are you talking about? :)) And people don\’t care that much. 🙂 We have mother\’s day at the same day as in here but my mom doesn\’t celebrate it that much because they still celebrate the international woman\’s day on March 8.
    Thank you for your nice words about my green card! Yes, nobody can understand the feeling. Only immigrants do. I was sitting outside on our backyard and look at the card and shaking my head and David was jus smiling at me. 🙂
    Yes, Celtics! AMAZING!!! 😀 I guess a lot of people hate Bostonians right now. 😉

  14. Charlotte says:

    Excellent read. "We need more "involved, responsible and committed" fathers. " And in that realm, kind, considerate and caring. Thanks for sharing. hugs, lottemae

  15. Embrace says:

    Excellent Blog. Hope your Fathers Day was nice.
    I have been so busy with family . Glad you have come by and I am always always happy to see you.
    Thanks , Have a Beautiful Friday Evening and Weekend.

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