Happy Father’s Day to all you gents who have children, grandchildren or mentor or have mentored a child in your community!
As you may know, I enjoyed deep, loving relationships with the men in my family. They respected and supported their women as well as encouraged the kids to pursue higher education and serve the community.
Indeed, I named the company Andelcare, which means “angel or guardian” in Czechoslovakian to honor my beloved grandfather from that country. My father and grandfathers have been gone for years now, but their influence lingers in everything I do.
That is why I want to take a look at the history of Father’s Day. I also want to look at the importance of fathers and grandfathers and to encourage men to take an active part in their children and grandchildren’s lives.
History of Father’s Day
In the early 1900s Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Wash., initiated a campaign to put Father’s Day on the calendar. She was inspired by her father, who raised six children alone after his wife died. Sonora promoted it for more than 20 years through church organizations before it gained traction around the country.
President Calvin Coolidge had originally recommended that Father’s Day become an official observance in 1924. But it took until 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation proclaiming the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
Father’s Day is modeled after, you got it, Mom’s Day. However, instead of a carnation, the Dad’s Day promoters designated a rose to celebrate the day.
Father’s Day got off to a slow start until 1938 when The National Council for the Promotion of Father’s Day started marketing. The council worked with florists, tobacconists, stationers and men’s clothiers across the United States to promote Father’s Day. Their slogan? “Give Dad Something To Wear!” The favorite gift for dad became a tie!
Unfortunately, Sonora Smart Dodd died in 1978 at the age of 96, and only lived to see her holiday celebrated for a few years. Today, the Father’s Day Council estimates that this observance brings in approximately $1 billion a year in retail sales.
Importance of Fathers
I think we all know that children benefit from both parents.
Observes Sociologist Dr. David Popenoe, one of the pioneers of research into fathers and fatherhood, “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home,” he says. “Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”
His research shows that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQs, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities. Toddlers with involved fathers go on to start school with higher levels of academic readiness. They are more patient and can handle the stresses and frustrations associated with schooling more readily than children with less involved fathers.
The influence of a father’s involvement on academic achievement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents. For instance, a 2001 U.S. Department of Education study found that highly involved biological fathers had children who were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly As and 33 percent less likely than other children to repeat a grade.
Importance of Grandfathers
Grandfathers and grandfather figures are very important, too. My grandfather was full of unconditional love.
But not everyone is so lucky. From a 10 year-old boy:
“My friend has a grandfather who plays with him and shows him a lot of stuff. My grandfather lives far away. How can I get a grandfather? I want one.” (Kornhaber, 1996; pg. 7)
In his research on grandfathers, Kirk Bloir of Ohio State University notes:
Researchers have found that grandchildren who have a close relationship with a grandfather are likely to perform well in school, display positive emotional adjustment, have higher self-esteem, and a greater ability to develop and maintain friendships. Grandfathers who report having close relationships with grandchildren describe the significant joy they experience as a result of the unconditional love they feel for their grandchildren. Spending time with their grandchildren and displaying photographs of them provides reminders of their connection to future generations.
Connecting With Grandchildren
Obviously, grandfathers have a vitally important role to play, and today’s grandfathers are stepping up to the plate and fulfilling it. According to Bloir, the first step to a great relationship is making a connection.
Ideas for connecting to grandchildren include:
Call or e-mail your grandchildren today just to say hello.
Learn more about computers and the Internet together with your grandchildren.
Get out the photo albums and share stories of your past.
Visit the library with your grandchildren and do some genealogical research.
Show respect for your grandchildren’s parents. Avoid offering unsolicited advice.
If you don’t have any grandchildren of your own, or would like to have more interaction with younger generations, adopt a grandchild in your community. Become a volunteer in your place of worship or at a local school.
Spend one-on-one time with a grandchild, teaching him or her a skill you have (i.e., woodworking, music, fishing, painting, etc.).
How do you connect with your grandchildren? How do you celebrate Father’s Day?