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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Not your father's Father's Day

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I was debating about what to write the past few days and wanted to touch on Father's Day and the importance of it. There are so many families apart of this blog with so many different situations that I wasn't sure I felt comfortable with writing from my own point of view. I started looking around online and came across this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. It's a very eye-opening article about fathers and their roles and it touched on some points that I definitely felt I could relate to in more than one way. I am hoping that many of you can relate to some of the thoughts portrayed here as wekk.  Although this article is written from the point of view of a father, I hope that you can take something from this and provide your feedback. Happy Father's Day and we hope you enjoyed this beautiful Sunday!

Sunday, June 20, 2010 (SF Chronicle)
Not your father's Father's Day
Jeff Gillenkirk

   As a father, I've come to dread the appearance of Father's Day. Not
because of lame presents or family members forgetting the day altogether.
My son usually tries to get up early enough to make me breakfast in bed,
though as he gets deeper into his teens the idea of early gets later and
"breakfast in bed" means that I'm breakfasting while he's in bed. But he
always rises to the occasion and provides a heartfelt, homemade card by
the end of the day and a poetry anthology or a CD of what he thinks my
favorite music is.

   What really troubles me about Father's Day is the bad rap fathers get.
Three years ago, Time magazine marked the approach of Father's Day with 
an article wondering "whether dads have done a good enough job to 
deserve the honor." Two years ago, presidential candidate Barack Obama 
used a Father's Day sermon to proclaim, "Too many fathers are MIA, too 
many fathers are AWOL." Last year, National Geographic News focused 
on a tribe in the Himalayas for its Father's Day coverage. The title: 
"No-Fathers Day: Remote Group Has No Dads, and Never Did." 
The concluding thought: "Are fathers really necessary?"

   As another Father's Day approaches - the 100th anniversary of the first
Father's Day, by the way - I ask America to celebrate, not castigate, its
fathers. After all, studies and census abstracts show that more American
dads are spending more time doing more things with their kids than at any
time in our post-agrarian society. Almost 2 1/2 million single parents
today are single fathers - an increase of more than 30 percent over the
past 15 years. The number of stay-at-home dads rose nearly 60 percent
between 2003 and 2008 and is expected to keep rising as the economy 
and family roles continue to change. Newsweek's Julia Baird reported in a
recent column that "Millennial fathers - those under 29 - spend an average
of 4.3 hours per workday with their kids, which is almost double that of
their counterparts in 1977." Finally, a Lever study that found that four
of out five dads who responded "show more physical affection to their
children than their parents did with them." A startling statistic from
that study was that these fathers "hug and kiss their children an average
of five times a day." Startling to me, as my father never hugged me once
in his lifetime. Not once.

   Clearly this is not our father's Father's Day. Millions of fathers still
have to step up to the plate, however. Nearly 25 million children are
growing up in America without fathers - making our country the world's
leader in fatherless families. A distressing 28 percent of white kids, 39
percent of Latino kids and almost 70 percent of black kids will wake up on
Father's Day without a their biological fathers at home. The impact of
this is devastating. Children without fathers are more prone to nearly
every negative development imaginable: more drug use, more depression,
more crime, higher rates of teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, gang
activity - and a lifetime of poverty.

   Kids need their fathers. Most won't say it in words, but they're certainly
acting it out. Father advocate groups around the country are showing men
how to do better. They are pushing to reform divorce laws and welfare
regulations that end up separating dads from their children. President
Obama has gotten involved in a positive way, providing generous funding
for several fatherhood-strengthening initiatives. And a new trend is
becoming clear: More dads are doing more for their kids since the days
when families lived together on farms. They're demonstrating awareness
that the word father isn't just a noun - it's a verb. "To father" means to
be involved from the moment your child enters this world, until the very
day that one or both of you leave it. Hopefully, the more fathers who do
this, the fewer stories will appear about the ones who don't - which would
be better for everyone.

   After all, you always get better results with praise than criticism. Every
good parent knows that. Happy Father's Day.

In love and kindness,

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