It is time again to celebrate the bonds between children and their fathers and the paternal influence in our lives.
It can be hard to do, but we encourage children to put down the “World’s Greatest Dad,” mug for a second and think about how important it was to have a father, or father-figure around. Look beyond the Hallmark-card feel of the holiday and consider the advice and support given by your fathers over the years.
It can be hard to do through the din of commercials touting the upcoming holiday and intrusive store displays of hand-tools, shaving kits and dark leather accessories designed to be purchased and given as a once-a-year reminder of the appreciation that father’s get for their role in society.
It isn’t enough.
Fathers don’t need to be reminded once a year that they are appreciated. They need constant encouragement and celebration for what should be viewed as an equal role in the family unit.
Too often fathers are portrayed in the media as bumbling idiots, incapable of carrying out the simplest of domestic duties and only good for entertaining children as they cannot parent to the same rigorous standards as the women around them.
It reinforces a stereotype that deepens perceived divisions between genders. Having just one day to recognize the things that fathers do upholds that stereotype, cheapening the sentiment conveyed to fathers and allowing the children doing the honoring to forget about their fathers for the rest of the year.
While it is endearing to see a father bring his new baby home from the hospital, play a guest in a bedroom tea-party, sit patiently through getting his toenails painted, teach his children how to ride bicycles and cheer for his child from the sidelines of a football game — it is far more important to recognize and support them as equals in the task of raising children.
Men should be expected to change diapers, do dishes, fold laundry and comfort their children just as women do. But, in order to convey those expectations, we need to understand that having one day for dads is not enough. We need to celebrate them for the other 364 and set the standard that men are capable of being, and should be, just as important in the lives of their children as the women who bore them.
Dads need to be recognized every day for doing dad things — and they need to be expected to hold themselves to the same high standards of parenting that moms are often expected to uphold.
We hope this Father’s Day — and every day after — you’ll remind your dad of his importance in your life. He needs it.