Anti-Father's Day?
We weren't planning anything in particular for Father's Day since my husband wasn't even going to be home. He left in the wee hours of the morning and shall return sometime tomorrow evening. That's what life is like when you are married to a railroader. He comes and goes with the trains. No schedule. Little secured home time. And plans are futile since they most likely will be interrupted. Does that make him a bad father? According to an article appearing in Time Magazine, it just might.
The folks at Hallmark are going to have a very good day on June 17. That's when more than 100 million of the company's ubiquitous cards will be given to the 66 million dads across the U.S. in observation of Father's Day. Such a blizzard of paper may be short of the more than 150 million cards sold for Mother's Day, but it's still quite a tribute. What's less clear is whether dads--at least as a group--have done a good enough job to deserve the honor.
I thought it a little telling that the programs I stumbled across on the radio this past week were dominated with the message that Americans are bad fathers.

I certainly do not defend the fathers who have divorced and walked out of their children's lives, defaulting on child support and failing to make contact. But at the same time, it seems that we have spent at least one generation telling men that we don't need them. We have stripped the family down to the "nuclear family," thereby removing many of the positive contributions that the extended family makes to the survival of the family. Divorce has been made easier and more socially acceptable. Its effect on children is pretty universally accepted, but that rarely seems to be offered as a motivation to stay together. After all, isn't it better for the children to live with the effects of divorce than the effects of living in a home where the parents do not get along?

And then there is that group of fathers to which my husband appears to belong.
Even fathers in intact families spend a lot less time focused on their kids than they think: in the U.S. fathers average less than an hour a day (up from 20 minutes a few decades ago), usually squeezed in after the workday.
I'm not sure when else our fathers are to be spending time with their children. Since the advent of the industrial revolution, most work outside the home. Since the sexual revolution, a good many mothers do as well. The bonds of family are being broken, and we are being told it is good for children. After all, they need that socialization offered in a quality preschool program to be successful in school, right? A lot of mothers these days are not spending much more time with their off spring.

I do think involved fathers are very important. And that involvement through provision alone is not quite enough. But my husband's decision to take a position which could support his family because he wanted someone home with the children hardly makes him a bad father. For seven days, he comes and goes. For three days, he makes the most of the time he has with his family. But he has made sure that his children are raised by someone who loves them more than life itself. Despite the insanity of his schedule, he has given them consistency, permanency and love.

Everyone is forced to make sacrifices in this world. But are those sacrifices for our own interests or those of others? I think that might be a better measure of whether fathers are worthy of the honor bestowed upon them this one day out of the year.


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