Michelle Obama once told her husband that Mother’s Day should be a bigger celebration than Father’s day because “every day is Father’s Day” adding he is “always getting a treat.”
In the 103 years since Father’s Day began being celebrated fatherhood has changed. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 15 percent of single parents were men and there were 158,000 stay-at-home dads. The Census Bureau also said various reports showed that fathers were good about reading to their children, praising them at least three times a day and taking them on outings.
In 2012 The Mirror reported that dads spend a lot of their time giving their children lifts and collecting them from sports activities and hobbies. Research showed dads spend nearly an hour and a half each week waiting in cars, which equates to 22 days of their lives just hanging around. The survey, conducted for Sainsbury’s Bank, revealed that the drives allowed parents to spend quality time chatting to their children in the car.
However, Michael Gurian noted that 90 percent of homeless and runaway children, 71 percent of high school dropouts and 63 percent of young people who commit suicide came from fatherless homes. He is quoted as saying “Without fathers you would have no civilization…..If we don’t protect fathering, we are going to really be messed up.”
So where did Father’s Day start? Some people cite the a church sermon made in West Virginia, USA in 1908 in memory of 362 men killed in explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines. However, this was intended as a commemoration, not an annual holiday.
Credit for the annual celebration is more usually attributed to Mrs Sonora Dodd. She was married to John Bruce Dodd, one of the original founders of Ball & Dodd Funeral Home. They had a son, Jack Dodd, born in 1909.
Mrs. Dodd’s mother had died during childbirth, leaving her father, William Jackson Smart, to raise his five sons and daughter on his own. In 1910, she attended a Mother’s Day church service and decided that her father had made just as much effort in raising the family as mothers did. She decided his efforts should be honoured in the same way – with a special day. Approaching the Spokane Ministerial Association and the local YMCA, Mrs Dodd’s asked them to support her proposal. Originally intended to take place on her father’s birthday, the celebration had to be postponed until the third Sunday of June. The first Fathers day celebration took place on 19th June 1910 in Spokane.
Father’s Day did not receive an immediate support. However, Newspapers picked up the story and spread it across the country. Mrs. Dodd’s campaign gained recognition from political leader William Jennings Bryan, who complimented her on her idea adding “too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the relation between parent and child.”
Attempts were made to make Father’s Day an official holiday by introducing a bill to Congress in 1913. It was approved by US President Woodrow Wilson, who went to Spokane to celebrate Father’s Day in 1916.
However, Congress worried that the new holiday would be too commercialized and so defeated two attempts to formally recognize the holiday. However, stopping short of issuing a national proclamation, in 1924 US President Calvin Coolidge recommended that the day be observed by the nation. He suggested that states should hold their own Father’s Day observances. His formal proclamation designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day to “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”
Following an accusation by Senator Margaret Chase Smith that Congress had been ignoring fathers for 40 years, in 1956/7 a Joint Resolution of Congress finally gave recognition to Father’s Day. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon made it a permanent national holiday by law.
The idea of celebrating Fathers day spread to the UK from America. However, it did not take off until the 1970’s, when the idea of equal rights was at the forefront of consciousness.