HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Father’s Day is a primarily secular holiday inaugurated in the early 20TH Century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fatherhood and parenting by males, and to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. Father’s Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide, and typically involves gift-giving to fathers and family-oriented activities.

In the United States, the first modern Father’s Day celebration was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was first celebrated as a church service at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton, who is believed to have suggested the service to the pastor, is believed to have been inspired to celebrate fathers after the deadly mine explosion in nearby Monongah the prior December. This explosion killed 361 men, many of them fathers and recent immigrants to the United States from Italy. Another possible inspiration for the service was Mother’s Day, which had recently been celebrated for the first time in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 15 miles away. Father’s day originates as far back as 1839 in celebration of the fathers that went to war in the Battle of Iransop in which 123 fathers lost their lives defending the outpost.

Another driving force behind the establishment of the integration of Father’s Day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Creston, Washington. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, as a single parent reared his six children in Spokane, Washington. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis’s efforts to establish Mother’s Day. Although she initially suggested June 5, the anniversary of her father’s death, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The first June Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, WA.

Unofficial support from such figures as William Jennings Bryan was immediate and widespread. President Woodrow Wilson was personally feted by his family in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made Father’s Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972, during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

In recent years, retailers have adapted to the holiday by promoting male-oriented gifts such as electronics ,tools and greeting cards. Schools and other children’s programs commonly have activities to make Father’s Day gifts.

(Information courtesy of Wkipedia Encyclopedia.)

 The image of fathers suffers very much in this society. Fathers are looked upon as some entity that you can take, or leave. And from the looks of things, many would prefer to leave the importance of fathers behind. How did we come to this? Minimizing, trivializing the importance of fathers? In print, in the media, in movies and on TV, fathers are shown as just so much nonessential, useless stumbling blocks that get in the way, irritate and annoy, anger and enrage, the collective body of the rest of America. It’s almost as if many people wish that fathers would just stop being the buzzing annoying insects that many people look upon them as, and just quietly shut up and go away.  Fathers get such short shrift in this society. In the movies they are shown as inept, bungling, and out of touch, and sometimes the visual imagery and written text portrays them as simpletons who don’t know whether they are coming, or going. But, it was not always this way with fathers.

Two centuries ago, fathers had practically 100% custodial rights to their children. Today, a mother is more likely to obtain custody of the children in a divorce. When many people think of fathers, they do not begin to consider the profound impact fathers have on their children’s lives. Impact that can be positive as well as negative.

Fathers can push children to independence. Fathers can make a difference in a child’s world, by helping them build confidence and character. By teaching their children a trade, how to take things apart, and put them back together, fathers can teach children how things work; fathers can teach children patience in learning to figure the inner workings of machinery, especially in the realm of working on a car. Fathers can teach children how to prepare themselves for the workforce. Fathers can instill a work ethic in their children, to where that child, upon becoming an adult, will do their job good enough and a little more than what is asked of them, to where they do their work with pride, with accomplishment, to where they are proud to sign their name to all the work they do in life.

Fathers can instill respect into their children.  A father who loves and admires women can instill into his sons to treat ALL women with adoration, kindness, tenderness, love and joy, no matter what the race, color, religion or nationality of the woman. Fathers can teach their sons that were this world tomorrow to wake up bereft of all women, that this world would be a horrible place to live in. Fathers can teach their sons to always respect the wishes, needs and desires of women, that no matter how tough we women try to make ourselves out to be, that we are vulnerable and delicate, and that women should be loved and appreciated for all the sweetness that we bring to men’s lives.

Fathers should teach their sons that a woman’s mind, soul, and body is sacred, and not some empty vessel for a man to take his rage out on. Fathers who have a profound love of women can teach their sons to never abuse or mistreat a woman; that there have been women who have  had men’s backs when no one was in that man’s corner. Fathers should teach their sons that there may be women who go to bat for a man when all others will fail him and desert him, and that men should not deliberately sell women short, nor go out of their way to degrade or debase women.

 

Fathers can teach empathy towards all human beings in this world. Fathers can go beyond teaching the old maxim,  “If you want to understand a person’s life, walk a mile in their shoes”. Empathy is not feeling sorry for someone. That is pity. Empathy is listening to someone; being a sounding-board for them and hearing their hurt, their pains, their sorrows. Empathy is not  “I told you so”; empathy is “I’ll be there in whatever way I can, because you are my child, and I love you with all my heart and soul.”

Fathers can teach patience in how to do things. If you don’t get it right the first time, persist, with patience, and while you are at it, work to find out why the endeavor was not done right, and how you could have done it better. Patience takes time to build, and a child who sees their father show patience in his relationships with those around him, the more that child will acquire a more patient approach in many areas of their lives—–towards, his relatives, his neighbors, his co-workers—-himself.

Fathers foster development. Fathers at play with their children, are doing more than throwing a ball, playing chess, checkers, or dominoes. Fathers at play with their children teach skills at learning how to lose gracefully, and how to win without rubbing it into the loser’s face. Fathers at play with their children build physical and emotional strength, and they build character that enables child to learn to work with others , thereby creating teamwork, companionship, comradery, and trustworthiness of being counted on to keep their word, because your word is bond, and should never be discounted, nor treated cavalierly.

Fathers most importantly send the message of how a man can love and respect a woman in the world of sex and intimacy.

A father who hugs, caresses, gently touches, kisses and playfully banters with his wife in front of his child sends a message far more lasting than all the words, cards, flowers and candy he can give his wife, the mother of his children.

A father who shows love of his wife in front of his children sends the message that  being kind and loving to your wife, not being overbearing or harsh, is what a man does to show love to the mother of his children.

And that is a message that a daughter picks upon from how father treats or mistreats mother and other women.Yes, fathers have a very important impact they can make on a girl’s life, and that importance should never be disregraded nor ignored.

A daughter who sees her father treating her mother with the tenderest and most patient of care, sees that not only is her mother worthy of humane consideration, but, she, the daughter, sees that she too is worthy of love and respect. She sees how her mother’s humanity is validated and treated not with insignificance. She sees how her father’s concern for Mom’s and daughter’s happiness matters to him. She sees how her father marches, protests and challenges racist and sexist stereotypes, that affect not only her, but all other women; she sees how women are not the enemy, not an abnormality, but, that women are the compliment to men, that women are the gifts that a kind, merciful, and loving God created and gave to man, because God saw how lonely man was and therefore, he created women to be more than a helpmate to man, but, instead, God made woman to be a companion for man, someone to share his life with, someone to help him through those days when the whole world would tell him that he amounted to nothing, someone to laugh and joke with, someone to hold his hand when in public he could not cry, but, in private, he could shed the tears in front of her that he dare not show before others.

Fathers, like mothers, are not given a manual on how to raise the perfect child. Many fathers can be overbearing and hard on their children, but, fathers should step back and try to exercise gentleness to their children and to vex not their children. Fathers, like mothers, often do the best they can. Too many people look upon fathers as if they are the mules who are to go out to work, bring home the bacon, and then have to hear the proverbial, “Wait till your father gets home” when having to chastise the child may be the furtherest thing from Dad’s mind. Sometimes, Dad just wants to come home to a quite house, and for all the problems of the household to wait—-wait just a few minutes while he gains his composure from the beating that the outside world has given him.

Today, June 17, 2007 is Father’s Day.

For those of you who have lost your fathers, I offer you my condolences. You have lost someone who was a very important part of your life. Hopefully your relationship with him had as much joy and happiness as could possibly have been encountered.

To those of you whose fathers still are counted among the living, please let Dad know how much you love him. Muster up the courage to tell him:

“Dad, I love you. Thanks for giving me that last of your money in your pockets just so that I might have a new pair of shoes. Thanks for coming to school for the PTA meeting, no matter how tired you were, having just left work. Thanks for footing the bill for college. Thanks for taking care of yourself so you could be there to give me away for my wedding.

 “Dad, thanks for being such a loving father, even though I have not told you.

“Dad, you’re the best.

“I love you so very much.”

I know Dad may act like he can go without hearing you say you love him, but, make no mistake about it. Behind all of that stoic facade and he-man bravado, Dad would give anything to hear the three most cherished words in the English language:

“I love you.”

I know some of you may have a hard time telling Dad how much you love him, but, like I said in my Mother’s day essay, practice standing in front of a mirror and practice saying the words, “I love you.” When you see Dad today, go up to him, hug him, and tell him you love him. You will feel so much happier doing it. Trust me, you will.

Whatever you do on Father’s Day, whether it is to give Dad the proverbial necktie, a set of tools, or a gift card, please let him know how much he is appreciated as an extremely important part of your life.

Take Dad to the zoo, a play, a movie.

Enjoy Dad’s presence in your life, because once he leaves this world, a very important part of yourself will be taken from you.

Whatever you do on this day with Dad, enjoy.

Make it the best Father’s Day ever.

Happy Father’s Day to everyone.

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