Dad's traditional role is changing

Friday, June 19, 2015

We don't know if it's just a guilty conscience or not -- yeah, it is -- but Americans are expected to spend "only" $12.7 billion for Sunday's Father Day celebration, compared to the$21.2 billion they spent on Mother's Day.

It shouldn't be a surprise; Mom is traditionally the one who bring us toast and tea when we have the flu, tuck us in at night and bake us our favorite dessert while Dad reads the paper and watches SportsCenter after coming home from work.

Traditionally, that is, if that scenario was ever as common as 1950s television shows would lead us to believe.

As current trends continue, the Father Knows Best storyline will become more and more of a distant memory.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were about 211,000 stay-at-home dads in 2014; married fathers with children younger than 15 who remained out of the labor force at least one year primarily so they can care for the family while their wife works outside the home. These fathers cared for about 420,000 children.

While not all fathers made that kind of commitment, 18 percent of preschoolers in 2011 were regularly cared for by their father during their mother's working hours.

Unfortunately, cards for Mothers Day and Fathers Day aren't always mailed to the same address.

About 43.5 percent of fathers of children younger than 18 were divorced, 33 percent were never married, 18.8 percent were separated and 4.7 percent were widowed.

And, money is always a factor.

Some $2 billion in child support was received by custodial fathers in 2011, of $3.7 billion owed. At the same time, custodial mothers received $19.5 billion of the $31.7 billion in support that was due.

About the same percentage of custodial fathers and mothers received all that was due, 43.6 percent, in 2011.

At the same time, nearly 64 percent of custodial fathers received noncash support such as gifts or coverage of expenses on behalf of their children.

"Traditional" fatherhood isn't extinct, however; some 24.7 million fathers are part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2014.

We haven't always recognized fathers with their own "day," Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., got the idea to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. Spokane proclaimed June 17, 1910, Smart's birthday, as the first Fathers Day.

It wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day, and it was left to President Richard Nixon to sign a public law to make it permanent in 1972.

Former first lady, and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once wrote "It Takes a Village" to raise our children; but Sunday is a day to recognize that Dad is a key leader of that village.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: