Just in time for Father’s Day this weekend, Time magazine ran an article called The Psychology of Fatherhood. To give you an idea of the tone of the piece, here is the opening paragraph:
The folks at Hallmark are going to have a very good day on June 17. That’s when more than 100 million of the company’s ubiquitous cards will be given to the 66 million dads across the U.S. in observation of Father’s Day. Such a blizzard of paper may be short of the more than 150 million cards sold for Mother’s Day, but it’s still quite a tribute. What’s less clear is whether dads–at least as a group–have done a good enough job to deserve the honor.
How you react to that is probably a pretty good indicator of what you will think of the rest of the article. I didn’t respond positively, and the more I’ve thought about the piece, the less I’ve liked it.
My main problem with the article is that it feels like nothing more than an excuse to bash fathers, hence the dig about not doing a good enough job to deserve the honor of Father’s Day. And that opening dig is actually pretty helpful in pointing this out. Father’s Day is not the Nobel Prize Ceremony or the Oscars (hell, it’s not even the Grammys). The point isn’t to single out the dads that have done the best job. The point is to emphasize fatherhood and encourage guys to be good fathers. So the fact that not all fathers are doing a great job is actually a reason to support the holiday.
Richard Jones at IAMRJ.com put it this way:
Still, there are enough fathers doing enough to deserve the honor of Father’s Day because it only takes one.
Even if only one father is a positive presence in his child’s life, his loved ones and friends should pause every now and again to encourage him; for like mom, the difference dad makes in the life of a child can determine the difference he will make in the life of a whole community.
But Father’s Day should not be only for those who are good fathers, but also for those who are growing fathers.
We celebrate Father’s Day as a way to present an ideal for dad’s to strive towards. Will all of them achieve this ideal? No. All will fall short in one way or another. However, that is no reason to stop holding up the ideals. To paraphrase Carl Schurz, ideals guide people the way stars guide sailors, even if neither can be reached.
My only question now is whether Time is going to blow the lid off an even bigger father related controversy: millions of undeserving men receiving t-shirts and mugs declaring them the World’s Greatest Dad.