Editorial: The importance of fathers

With Sunday being Father’s Day, it is an opportunity to celebrate the men in our lives.

Most often, perhaps, we do this with gifts, and Father’s Day gifts have been the butt of many jokes. Surfing the Internet turned up some of the “top” gift suggestions: Amazon Echo, a Hyper Chiller (for wine and beer), a vacuum beard trimmer, golf equipment, a drone with camera, a barbecue cookbook, and a hammock. Nary a tie or plaid shirt in the lot.

Of course, physical gifts are just a small part of what Father’s Day is all about.

The genesis of the holiday is in the efforts of Sonora Louis Smart Dodd, who more than a century ago aspired to create a holiday to honor fathers. She was the daughter of a single father —a Civil War veteran — who was inspired by a Mother's Day sermon and wondered why there was no holiday for fathers. After securing support from ministers in Spokane, Wash., her idea came to fruition with the first Father's Day celebration at the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. President Woodrow Wilson was the first U.S. president to celebrate Father's Day in June 1916, at a party hosted by his family. President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924 but it wasn’t until  President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 issued an executive order making Father's Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June.

The holiday still was not officially recognized until 1972, when it was acknowledged by a congressional act setting it permanently on the third Sunday in June nationwide.

Fathers play a vital role in our social fabric. Being a father is so much more than siring a child. Children of both sexes need a strong male role model in their lives.

Studies have shown that a child with a close relationship with their father or other adult male role model has more self-confidence. They exhibit less depression and engage in significantly less drug and alcohol use. Children with involved fathers perform better academically whether they live with them or not.

Children of highly involved fathers are more empathetic, exhibit greater self-control and are less prone to stereotyped sex roles. They are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, less likely to be sexually active as teengers, and more likely to be encouraged to take healthy risks.

Thus, Father’s Day is really a celebration of the gifts our fathers have given us. It takes time, caring and commitment to foster close relationships, but the results are well worth the effort. To the dads who are able to do this, we wish you a most happy Father’s Day.