The Purpose of Fathers’ Day
In an ideal world, Father’s Day would be a wonderful time to mark our society’s
reverence for the role of males as family bread-winners, defenders of the sacred hearth, and role models for personal self-discipline and virtue. But in today’s world, it’s barely acknowledged at all.
It took until the Nixon Administration for a national holiday to be established just for fathers on the third Sunday in June. And the celebration’s never really caught on. In a banner year, Americans still spend 50%-60% less on Father’s Day. And despite some private gift-giving –usually an electric gadget or a pair of new socks — it’s rarely an occasion for significant public acknowledgment, even by family members.
The restaurant that’s mobbed on Mother’s Day has reservations galore on Father’s Day.
Though we’re reluctant to admit it, our culture has largely declared war on fathers.
Feminists have deemed men the standard-bearers of “patriarchy,” and have implied, erroneously,
that families can do without them. A growing percentage of American families are now headed up by a single parent; among African-Americans, the rate – near 60% — is astounding.
And this is no boon to children – or to their unattached mothers, whose families earn, on average, one-third the income of two-parent homes. And yet the myth that these families are fully functional – and the cult of the “Super Mom” — persists. Much of our contemporary social policy and popular discourse celebrates the role of women-headed households.
A quarter-century ago, when Vice-President Dan Quayle called out popular TV show “Murphy Brown” for exaggerating the virtues of its protagonist, a
single professional mother, he received a stern rebuke from Hollywood and national opinion- makers. Clearly, Quayle was “out of touch” with the “heroic” roles performed by single women in America today, they crowed. You do see men in the role of the father in Hollywood but they too often appear as bumbling and ineffective — or worse.
In the hit series how Californication, David Duchovny was a philandering writer who bedded down a sixteen-year-old and regularly got into fistfights. The father in the popular sitcom Malcolm in the Middle is clearly deranged; so is the meth-dealing high school teacher in Breaking Bad. In the Sopranos, he’s an angst-ridden psychopath.
The damage that real fatherlessness does to children is indisputable. Fatherless children
are four times more likely to be poor and twice as likely to drop out of school and end up in jail. And consider this: All but one of the last two dozen mass school shooters came from a fatherless home.
Adam Lanza, the angry, mentally ill teenager who gunned down nearly two dozen children in Newtown, CT, had a classic liberal Super-Mom for a mother. No doubt she’s a wonderful woman, but should parenting under these circumstances ever be a one-person job?
Boys can live under their mother’s skirts for a while, but once they approach and pass
through adolescence, they need to run up against a strong and loving masculine presence. Nature made us this way. Without healthy fathers, boys and girls alike suffer distortions in their personal development for the rest of their lives, research shows.
We need sustained national reflection on this question – and pro-active bipartisan
Another Father’s Day is about to come and go, but it’s not too late to honor the fathers in our midst and Thank God that we still have them. We might well have descended into greater social decay and dislocation without them.
President Trump should appoint a special national commission to get to the bottom of the fatherless trend and to recommend comprehensive solutions. As Trump well knows, the presidency is a bully pulpit. President Obama also called attention to fatherlessness, but in keeping with current attitudes, he seemed to suggest that the onus for change rested on men alone (they should “man up,” he implied).
Trump, who has already drawn attention to the plight of young boys, can insist on a
broader more even-handed gender dialogue. He’s also helped raise a bevy of talented children, who can speak to the enduring value of fathers (even amidst divorce and re-marriage) Ultimately, though, the men and women of America need to insist on a healthier public dialogue.
Women need to admit that the current climate of gender invective is doing nothing to advance the cause of gender equality. It’s actually driving men – many good men — to retreat even further from constructive engagement with women. Trump’s message is simple: When men and women come together in a permanent union, they are ennobled; their children flourish, and so does society. We need strong families – and strong fathers — to make America great again.