Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, whose mother had spent her entire life organizing women’s groups to promote service and health, originated Mother’s Day. On Sunday May 12, 1907, she held a memorial service at her late mother’s church. Within five years virtually every state was observing the day, and in 1914, seven years later, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday. Now nearly everybody in the world (50+ countries) all know and support Mother’s Day as the special day it has become.
The father of Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, raised her and her five siblings as a single dad after their mother died in childbirth. He was a Civil War vet. Dodd created the first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910, to celebrate the month of the birthday of her father. Since 1910, it has been celebrated annually on the third Sunday of June, because ministers in the early 1900s wanted to be sure they had enough time between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to write two exceptionally good sermons for services held on those holidays. Sixty-two years later President Richard Nixon made it a national holiday. It is currently celebrated in only 15 countries.
Father’s Day took a bit longer to be officially recognized, and it seems not quite as broadly!
What to Expect on Father’s Day?
What should a father expect on this nationally and somewhat globally recognized day? Today Father’s Day is still considered less important than Mother’s Day, a sentiment with which I agree. However, Father’s Day it is gaining in prominence and our kids are giving it more serious attention and celebrating it with more whole-heartedness and eagerness. I myself still feel that Mother’s Day is more important and should always remain extra special, but I have enjoyed the increased acknowledgement of our day as well.
If there is an active and participating mom in the family, then Father’s Day will very likely be overshadowed by Mother’s Day but we should embrace the distinction and truly enjoy whatever attention is directed to us – and hopefully we have earned it.
Mom’s Endorsement Means a Lot
I appreciate all moms who make an effort to get their kids on board with creating a nice and loving day for their fathers, if it is at all possible. If moms acknowledge the day with genuine care, kindness, and regard then kids will likely follow. It is great opportunity to let dads know that they, too, mean a lot and are important, and maybe even more so if the parents are separated. If moms genuinely endorse celebrating Father’s Day, it will add valuable credibility for the children and go a long way to making the day meaningful for both.
Moms can encourage their kids to express their emotions and loving feelings towards their dads. I don’t think many of us dads expect a big celebration, nor necessarily desire one. But even a simple, favorite breakfast prepared with help from the kids makes for a nice experience to share together. If they are too young to cook, then let the kids clean up as best they can. Just getting a Father’s Day card that has been thoughtfully composed is a highlight for many fathers, especially when the kids personally present it. I have saved most of mine. Our card expectations should not be too high because the kids just got done celebrating and writing similar cards to their mothers a few weeks before. It is very likely the cards will be a bit more humorous and less emotional. This should not disappoint dads. We should never consider Mother’s Day and Father’s Day an emotional competition. Both are special opportunities to offer singular attention to a parent – and there aren’t always a lot of those kinds of opportunities these days.
Make the best of them.