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Dad’s Matter Just As Much As Mom

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared that the third Sunday in June would be Father’s Day, 50 years after the country had begun celebrating American mothers. Nevertheless, as traditional roles around the house have changed, fathers are gaining more attention. And rightfully so!

Dad’s role is crucial, not only to the children in his life, but also to our society as a whole. Children without fathers are five times more likely to be poor, three times more likely to use drugs, three times more likely to have emotional and behavioral  problems, twice as likely to drop out of school, and twice as likely to be incarcerated. Unfortunately, 40% of children in America are raised without a father.

Study after study empirically demonstrates that a father’s role in a child’s well being is just as important as mom’s. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 44% of children in mother-only families are living in poverty, compared to only 12% of children living in a household headed by a married couple. A study by the Department of Education showed that students whose fathers were highly involved at school were 43% more likely to receive A’s. Conversely, students living in homes without a father were twice as likely to repeat a grade as students with a father in the home.

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A father can really make substantial difference, whether he be married, single, divorced, widowed, gay, or straight, a stepfather, a stay-at-home dad, or the primary family provider. What is important is that he is involved. So how are we going to show our thanks to dear old dad? We can check out how other cultures do it.

Australians have festivities all day, starting with a community breakfast, then games, followed by picnics and fishing contests. It might be fun to set up a breakfast with a few family friends and plan an outing for dad.

The Irish donate to charity in the name of their father or perform acts of community service to pay tribute to the important men in their lives. How about letting dad sleep in and take the kids for an altruistic play date? Or, enjoy a charitable family outing – www.volunteerinfo.org offers volunteer opportunities across the Bay.

South Africans gather in their communities and read stories and poems, focusing on strong male role models. Here are some good reads with patriarchal themes:

This I Believe: On Fatherhood by Dan Gediman, is a compilation of original essays. It is filled with moving memories of love, heartbreak, lessons learned, opportunities missed, and other sentimental stories.

In, Just the Two of Us, actor Will Smith tells a touching tale of fatherhood and a father’s love as his child grows from a boy into a man.

Monday is One Day by Arthur A. Levine is a love note from a working parent to a child.

For a real sentimental punch, have the children make their own book for Dad. Klutz Build-a-Book: Why I love my Dad by Sherri Haab is a kit containing everything a kid needs to create a one-of-a-kind book just for dad to show off, share and cherish.

Whether spending time outdoors, reading a book together, performing some community service or just sitting down to a family meal, enjoy creating some wonderful new memories and traditions of your own this Father’s Day.

Sigmund Freud wrote, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” May you and your family enjoy the protection and love of the men in your family that answers to “dad.”

Contact Margaret Lavin at elementarydays@gmail.com.

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