Why Don’t We Really Celebrate Father’s Day?

June 17, 2015  |  

You know people on social media have a tendency to be a little bit late when it comes to news. I’m not sure if you noticed but people on Facebook, including Iyanla Vanzant, were under the impression that Ruby Dee died a week ago. When she’s been gone for over a little over a year now.

And since Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday, people are sharing an old image of a Hallmark Mahogany card. It’s a card for mother’s…on Father’s Day.

Again, the image is at least a year old and Hallmark has been making Father’s Day cards  for single mothers for years now.

In 2011, Hallmark spokesperson Kristi Ernsting said that they started selling the cards years ago at the request of costumers who wanted to celebrate the parents who play many different roles in their children’s lives.

And they are the only ones. This year Angel Soft, released a whole video of adults thanking their mothers for being being both mom and dad. It’s a touching tribute but seems to insinuate that when a woman was “soft,” like their toilet paper she was being mom and when she was tough, she was being dad.

 

I’m not going to lie. My eyes welled up watching this video; but still, nah. A women can be both soft and strong, whether a man is present for childrearing or not. I saw both my mother and father demonstrate soft or nurturing qualities and I saw them both be tough too.

Watching them as a kid and then increasingly as I got older, I noticed that there is a distinct difference between a mother and a father. Just like every person, regardless of gender, offers a different perspective and serves a different role, the role of father cannot adequately be duplicated by a woman. And I don’t have to tell you that a man can never be a mother.

Still, since I didn’t grow up with an absentee father, I can’t say I fully understand the void or hurt those children and the children turned adults feel. So I can’t fault a person for wanting to celebrate one parent for the additional work they’ve inevitably done as a single parent.

I do wonder though, if the need to celebrate women for a role they could never really feel seems to downplay the necessity of fathers in the home.

Every year, I cringe at the ways in which Father’s Day, which comes not even a full month after Mother’s Day, seems to be presented as a bit of an afterthought in the eyes of society.

And I’m not just talking about Black people.

There have been several jokes made about how the holiday is generally regarded as a joke.

And it’s not just comedians, the very companies that stand to make money from the day’s celebration, don’t even put many advertising dollars in promotion of the holiday.

Within the Black community, when we talk about Father’s Day, it’s from the perspective of scolding fathers from not being present in their children’s lives. See President Obama’s famous “Father’s Day” speech which was largely applauded by the community. And President Obama is not the only one. I’ve sat through far too many Father’s Day services where men, many of whom weren’t even in church in the first place, were bashed.

As if men are the only ones who can be terrible parents. We all know at least one somebody who had a terror for a mother and I’ve never heard women publicly reprimanded on Mother’s Day.

It just seems like Father’s Day, a holiday designated to celebrate the present and active fathers, would be the only day on the calendar where this type of speech was completely inappropriate. It would be the equivalent of someone highlighting all the ills of the Black community as a way to celebrate the 28 days in February, dedicated to celebrating Black history.

Yes, absentee fathers are an issue but I fear that every time Father’s Day is discussed publicly, within the Black community, it seeks to further perpetuate the over exaggerated statistic of absentee dads.

I’m all for highlighting a problem to find a solution but highlighting subpar fathers on a day that is meant to celebrate them, marginalizes the men who are actually taking care of their responsibilities.

And if I were a man who was actively involved in the life of my child, I’d not only appreciate someone honoring my sacrifice and commitment, I certainly wouldn’t want to receive a lecture for what someone else isn’t doing.

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