Father’s Day is a time for children and for spouses to celebrate the men in their life. For children, it is a day to let their fathers know how much they appreciate them. For wives, it is a day to let their husbands know how much they love him and appreciate his hard work as a father and husband.
Although many of us celebrate Father’s Day, we may not know the history behind this tradition. This tradition was not completely accepted at first, but over time, we learned the influence fathers had on their families, especially in their children’s lives.
Why Do We Celebrate Father’s Day?
According to the History channel’s website, Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman from Spokane, Washington, was the founder of Father’s Day. She was one of six children raised by her widowed father. Her mother had died during the birth of her sixth child.
Since Mother’s Day was established in 1908, Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to have an equivalent holiday for fathers. To promote her idea of celebrating fathers for a day, Sonora visited local churches and the YMCA and met with shopkeepers and government officials to gain support for this new tradition. Because of her hard work, Sonora found success when Washington State celebrated the first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.
Even though Mother’s Day gained momentum right away, it would take years for Father’s Day to be nationally recognized as a holiday. In 1916 and 1924, Presidents Wilson and Calvin Coolidge showed support for Father’s Day. President Coolidge even urged state governments to celebrate this holiday.
But it was not until decades later that Father’s Day would be recognized as a national holiday. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Nixon finally established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day.
One of the reasons it took so long for Father’s Day to become a national holiday because there was a lack of support among men. Many men felt the holiday did not celebrate their manliness through gift-giving and flowers. They also felt it was another way for stores to commercialize another holiday and to pressure families into spending more money by buying unnecessary gifts.
In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a movement that attempted to eradicate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The movement’s supporters called for Parent’s Day where both parents are celebrated. Despite the movement’s efforts, Mother’s Day stayed on the calendar, and Father’s Day would eventually be added to the national calendar.
Why Should We Celebrate Father’s Day?
Despite the original controversy surrounding Father’s Day, it is a day many families celebrate together today. Not only do many families set aside this day to spend together, but there is a really good reason to show love and appreciation for our fathers.
In the early 1900s, society did not give fathers much credit for the influence they had on their children. In fact, most psychological studies completed on parenting focused their research on mothers. However, in the 1970s, psychologists started recognizing the importance of fathers.
In recent studies, Psychology Today has found that “children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections…Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.”
Basically, children who have involved fathers are more likely to be healthy emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Even when children face crises, having an involved father helps children regulate their behavior and feelings better than children whose fathers are absent. In addition, children who have absent fathers are more likely to engage in at-risk behaviors. This is why there has been a push for male mentors in elementary schools.
While mothers have been recognized as the primary caretakers, times are definitely changing as more women are offered more opportunities in the workplace and fathers are becoming more involved in raising children rather than primarily focusing on providing for the family.
A father’s positive influence is why we should celebrate Father’s Day. Fathers work hard to take care of their families by providing for their needs, doing household chores, and spending time with their children.
But sometimes, our fathers are not around to celebrate. If your father has passed and you do not have a husband and children, find a friend or a neighbor who is a dad to wish them a happy Father’s Day. Celebrate a grandfather or male mentor. If your father is alive but absent, think about a male that positively influenced your life such as a teacher, coach, or pastor, to whom you could extend a happy Father’s Day. If you suffered abuse at the hands of your father, spend the day celebrating your heavenly Father who loves you and is the perfect Father—a Father that will never hurt you and is always for you.
How Can We Celebrate Father’s Day?
There are a variety of ways we can celebrate our fathers. We can purchase them special gifts, take them to see their favorite baseball team, give them a day to spend on the golf course, or simply buy a card that tells them how awesome they are.
Another way to celebrate Father’s day is to host a cookout for all the fathers in the family (e.g., brothers, uncles, and grandfathers). If you do not live close to family, you can also host a neighborhood block party to celebrate the fathers in the neighborhood or gather with a few close friends who are fathers.
Oftentimes, we think of mothers as sentimental, but fathers like to hear how much their children love them and why they think their fathers are great. They like to be the superheroes in the story—the ones who save the day and make their children’s and spouse’s lives better.
For more ideas on how to celebrate Father’s Day, check out 5 Ways to Celebrate with Dad. There are simple ways you can honor your father or husband today!
Do not forget to extend a happy Father’s Day to all the fathers in your life. If you know a single or a widowed father, reach out to him today! Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there!