Although Father’s Day was initially proposed over one hundred years ago, in 1910, it took 62 years for the United States to officially declare Father’s Day a permanent national holiday. President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972, only 41 years ago, that we would honor our dads, as we had been our mothers for 58 years, since 1914.
While some originally ridiculed the idea as being emasculating to men, others saw the commercial value in the holiday and wished to exploit it as a “second Christmas”. Advertisers mocked the idea in campaigns as they hocked tobacco and smoking pipes; however, over the years, as the idea of a nuclear family changed, so has the concept of Father’s Day for many.
Today, fathers are represented by the traditional family, the stepfather, the divorced father, the workaholic father, and even the single mother.
*All names have been changed to protect the privacy of all those involved.
The Traditional Father
Stanley has been married to his high-school sweetheart since he was 18-years-old; they married the summer after they graduated then he left immediately for Marine boot camp. The pair has been married for 30 years and has two adult children.
As a father, Stanley has been able to participate in the lives in his children, Colby, 25, and Chastity, 21, on a permanent full-time basis. Although he had two overseas tours, his close relationship with his wife, Susan, allowed him to be part of their lives as they grew into adults.
Now, Colby has purchased a home and recently became engaged. His close bond with his father allows him to ask for advice and confer with him on a regular basis.
Chastity is a college student who still lives at home; she sees her dad almost daily. He is there if she needs him for anything; she can go to him for advice, if she has car trouble, he is a strong male role model.
The Divorced Father
As a newly divorced father, Harold was already in love with somebody else; he had two children, Luke, 16, and Lara, 14. Harold’s new girlfriend made it clear that she had already raised her children (they were 17 and 18) and she had no interest in living with his.
After a bitter divorce, Harold’s ex-wife made a difficult teen life even worse when she included Lara in every feeling she ever had about her ex-husband. Lara became challenging and often hateful towards her father’s new girlfriend causing an already tense situation to become more heated.
Eventually, Lara’s mother no longer wanted her to live there, so Harold determined his daughter would live with his mother and he co-parented with her from a distance. As work took him to another state, his son stayed on with friends to finish high school.
Harold and his mother worked collaboratively to raise Lara from a teen to a young lady without benefit of the girl’s mother. He was constantly pulled between the new girlfriend and his daughter.
Now, his daughter is a young adult as is his son; everyone has moved on from the experience having learned a great deal about another non-traditional family.
After losing his own son in a bitter custody battle, Leo married a woman who had a son, Jason. Leo could have backed away from the boy and been depressed about the loss of his own precious boy; however, he became a strong father figure to him.
While Jason’s own father is still in the picture, he has been through some troubled times, and Jason needs as many loving parents as are available to him, as most children would.
In his teen years, Jason came out as gay, and Leo handled it with aplomb even though he came from a background where that lifestyle might not have necessarily been supported by his own father. Leo has supported Jason through harassment to the point of their home and cars being vandalized with gay slurs and set ablaze; he lost his business over the incident and was never able to recover.
Leo never blames Jason; he only supports the young man and his rights to live the way he chooses.
The Remarried Father
Kurt lived with his father, Tom, and stepmother, Jenny, for more than ten years before Tom finally had to move to another state due to the poor economy in Nevada. David, Kurt’s brother, lived with his dad for years before moving back in with his biological mother when she promised him a vehicle for high school; after that, he spent weekends and summers with his father.
When Tom and Jenny had to move, Tom spent hours in mediation and court battles fighting to be allowed to take Kurt with him, even though the boy had spent almost his entire life living with him. Lawyer’s fees, airline tickets back and forth from his new home, and time away from Jenny all took a toll, but Tom never said one bad word about his ex-wife in front of his boys. He knew they would figure it out on their own one day.
David just graduated from high school, and Kurt will be a senior in the fall. Tom has been able to teach his boys how to ride bikes, how to swim, take them camping, he talks to them about girls, what to expect out of life, alcohol and drug use, and he takes them to college campus visits to prepare them for life.
Regardless of the fact that he has had to battle for time with them, he has done everything he can to ensure they live as close to a normal life as they can.
The Workaholic Father
Casey works tirelessly as the head of a major corporation; he travels from coast to coast every-other-week, and longs to spend more time with his children. However, while he does not spend every second with them, or he misses a few school recitals or important events, he works tirelessly to support them in the way few others can in this economy.
When he is home, every minute is about them; and when he is not, he wants to be there and thinks about them. While they may have no idea, everything he does, all the work he does and money he earns, he does for them.
The Non-Traditional Father
Some men are there in life and are examples of fatherhood even when they have never had the pleasure or joy of having children. Mark is one of those men.
Mark has a nephew who says they are as close as father and son. His nephew has two sons that Mark treats as his grandchildren and one day will inherit valuable racecars and memorabilia usually reserved for beloved children.
The love and adoration between these two men is a prime example of a non-traditional father.
The Single Mother
Life in 2013 is very different than it was when Father’s Day was first introduced in 1910; many households have children being raised by single mothers where a father is not seen for years at a time. Missy and her two children, Craig, 12, and Kelly, 10, live in a house like that.
Missy has to be father and mother to her kids; she works full-time, cooks every meal from scratch, cleans, drives them to school more than 5 miles away each day, and is incredibly protective of her bear cubs. Her children have not seen their father in more than 4 years; he is more than $25,000 behind in child support.
However, Craig and Kelly do not appear to be suffering. Missy talks openly to her kids about most things in life, reserving some subjects as not being age-appropriate. They discuss school, friends, relationships, life, and rules.
Life is not perfect in their house, though, Missy falls apart at times and questions her parenting skills, wondering if she is doing things well, “Am I a bad parent?” she asks frequently. Her children and her friends reassure her that she could not do any better; as both father and mother, Missy is under a lot of pressure to succeed.
To all of the men, women, fathers, brothers, teachers, or anybody who serves to support those in America today as fathers and dads, Happy Father’s Day.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist