Why is Father’s Day Stuck in the ‘50s?

Jun 10, 2013

Father's Day is a bit of a murky memory for me. My parents separated when I was young, and my father died when I was barely a teen. My mom managed to save a few of the hand-crafted cards I made for my dad when I was a kid, but other than that ... murky.

Celebrating my father on Father's Day was, and is, a bit of a painful journey for me. However, I do not want my kids to suffer from my own ambivalence, so I have always tried to encourage some "Dad Appreciation" for at least ONE day of the year.

In families like ours where we have tended to fall into the "traditional" gender roles, I think Dad can get a bit taken for granted. A full-time working dad isn't a constant in a child's life - Dad isn't around as much as Mom (me). In fact, the kids will walk right past their dad to ask me for milk or food when I am in the SHOWER.

While Mother's Day tends to be all about flowers, brunches and breakfasts in bed, Father's Day for us is a time to get the kids to reflect on why they love dear old Dad. I usually try to get them to THINK about what to do for their dad rather than have me run the show. I ask them to think of things that he would like to do for Father's Day. I ask them to think about what makes their dad special to THEM. I want whatever symbols of their appreciation to be purely from them and not what I think they should say or do. It doesn't need to be a big deal, but it must show thought on their part. Adam and Caity are old enough now to run with this, and they take little Tara along for the ride.

One year, they wrote letters to their dad stating what makes him cool. (The content mostly involved "he buys us stuff" and "takes us to free movies." They also said they think his job is "cool.") Another year they made "We Love You, Dad" posters, which they put up while they "let" him sleep in. What my entire family finds amusing is how traditional and stuck in the 1950s the gift ideas seem to be for dads. Their dad does not want a tie, golf tees, or something sports related - or beer-related for that matter. Even the cards in the stores seem to be for the dad in My Three Sons. Times have changed and so have the fathers out there. Where are the cards extolling their dads' mad gamer skillz on the Xbox or PS3? Or telling their dad that he is a rad skateboarder?

Okay, my husband is not a rad skateboarder, but I bet there are LOADS of dads who totally are. Father's Day marketing needs to get with the fact that there are so many types of fathers out there. And please school teachers, no more tie-shaped cards for my kids this year. Let's try to think a bit more outside of the traditional box and salute the myriad cool dads who are raising the next generation the best way they possibly can.

So, what are my kids doing this year? They're filming a video on their iPod telling him why they think he's awesome. Sounds good to me.  

Kerry Sauriol is the Vancouver mom behind the blog, Crunchy Carpets. She has three children and sundry pets, and tries to balance it all while keeping her sanity. Her blog focuses on the juggling act called parenting - in her case, the act of juggling a preschooler, two burgeoning "tweens" and keeping everyone out of therapy when they're older. 

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.