Equal time – and respect – for the dads
So here we are six days after Hallmark’s (and our) Father’s Day! I well realize that I was a little more on the mark when it came to writing about the moms, but is that not the reality when it comes to the male parental units. For too many reasons, the men take a back seat in the parenting process, in all the aspects of that process, I might add. Lest the dads become immediately angry at this point of view, let me state at the outset that my “back of the bus” comment does not apply to all the dads, but unfortunately, the press and the person in the street do portray most of us in that light. Actually, the dads are as terrific as the moms about whom I wrote some weeks ago, admittedly a little more timely. After all, no dads, no moms – think about that!
Perhaps the challenge with respect to what we can term “Dad PR” is the amount of time dads spend on being a dad. Even though we are more or less working from home (really cannot tell given the automobile traffic around town), dad spends much of his time out of the house and thus away from the child(ren). This absence prevents the man from garnering the type of opinion he needs in order to be on at least an equal footing with his woman partner. This would be true too for same-sex couples involved in the mom and dad process. What appears to occur is that the dad is observed coming and going from home to work, from work to a dinner meeting, from home to the ball field, from dinner or the bar to home. Yes, one of those trips does involve the person borne by the mom some years earlier, but cumulatively, the task times with dad do not compete with mom’s. However, it is not always about quantity of time, but usually quality of time, although there are some components lacking there also. We must give credit where credit is due, which brings us back to the no dad, no mom thing.
We hereby award the dad with the trophy which recognizes the support given to the mom by the complementary party. Yes, indeed, he is much more than the person with the bats and gloves on the way to the Little League field, or with the sticks to assist with field hockey or lacrosse. This human being is so much more than the testosterone emitted at varying intervals during the waking hours which causes demonstrations of athletic and romantic prowess. The dad is the essential support person for his partner, making everything else in the household just work better. When the going gets rough and tough, to whom is mom to turn? You got it – dad. Dad shall provide the ear, the shoulder, the chest to make whatever situation more bearable for the mate.
Since it is clear that it takes two, we dwell on the fact that we cannot have one without the other, and thus we celebrate and congratulate dad again a few days after Hallmark has declared him a hero, and hopefully most of us have recognized this stalwart figure for the “fellow” that he is. Last Sunday was as special as the one in May, but never has, and never will receive the same coverage and respect as that earlier holiday. Even yours truly chose to write about the dads days after the commemoration of Father’s Day, instead of weeks in advance. It should be noted, too, that there was a Mother’s Day in 1908, well before 1910, which saw the first June that Father’s Day was celebrated.
We do need to note that so many of us grew up without the presence of an actual dad in the household, which adds to the dearth of excitement and enthusiasm about Father’s Day. However, many have stepped forth to fill that void, and they too are commended for their efforts as uncles and grandfathers. The role of the male parent has been seen in many ways over the years, the more prominent of which has been that of disciplinarian and enforcer. Fortunately, the “Wait until your father gets home” syndrome has faded away during the past 50 or so years, showing dad in a much more loving and gentle light than the person of yesteryear.
Here's looking to that gentle giant to set up the beach umbrellas in the weeks and months to come!