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Our Fathers — an article on the Smart Living Network
June 9, 2009 at 12:34 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Our Fathers


We do not perceive fatherhood as our own fathers did.

The last few generations have moved the father from the head-of-the-family-position, and embraced him as a nurturing parent. Most people see this as a positive change for family men. Of course, fathers have always been incredibly important. The U.S. began to recognize this fact officially in the early 20th century. In July of 1908, following a terrible explosion that killed over 300 men, a West Virginia woman named Grace Golden Clayton is thought to have suggested a day for father recognition to her pastor. In 1909, the daughter of Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart wanted to honor her father for raising her after her mother died. She organized to have a tribute to her own and all fathers on June 19, 1910.

"Father's Day in Germany is a wild affair. The men to go on all-male hikes, and the tendency is for them to get very drunk..."

Unlike Mother's Day, the idea of Father's Day was not readily accepted as a serious holiday. Some saw it as the beginning of a string of unnecessary holidays recognizing grandparents and bosses. Still, President Coolidge supported the idea in 1924, and President Johnson proclaimed it a national holiday in 1966. By the 1980s, the third Sunday in June was celebrated with fathers across the country, and accompanied by profitable commercial campaigns. Different countries and traditions celebrate fathers in different ways. The rituals range from religious to downright boisterous:

Roman Catholicism March 19 is also known as The Feast of Saint Joseph in the Catholic faith. In the past, the day was also used to honor fathers, seemingly to make the celebration easier for everyone to be a part of. However, many traditionally Catholic countries now see Father's Day as a secular holiday.

Thailand This Southeast Asian country sets Father's Day as the birthday of its king. Currently, December 5, the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), is Father's Day. The people wear yellow on this day, as it is the color of the day for Monday, the day of the week on which Rama IX was born. Another part of the celebration is gifting fathers and grandfathers with a Canna flower, which is considered a masculine flower.

Germany Called Vatertag (Father's Day), Mannertag (Men's Day), or Herrentag (Gentlemen's Day), and celebrated on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter), Father's Day in Germany is a wild affair. The tradition is for the men to go on all-male hikes with wagons full of regional food and drink. Generally this includes wine or beer, vegetables, eggs, and more. The tendency is for the men to get very drunk, and roam the streets. The holiday is one of high police alert, and has been protested by some right-wing and feminist groups.

Tips for Today's Father

If you are a father-to-be, or a new dad, you're undoubtedly dealing with questions and feelings about the changes in your family. The following is a list of Web MD tips about beginning fatherhood:

1. Take breaks - If the house is getting too chaotic with a crying baby, food on the stove, ringing phones, and an upset mother, don't hesitate to step outside and take a few breaths.

2. Make time for family - There's no such thing as too much quality time. Planning to be together for fun helps to balance the stressful moments. This is a great excuse to hold off on yard work and other social engagements.

3. Play with your baby - This is a fantastic way to bond with your new child, and good for both of you mentally.

4. Take the baby out with you - Whether it's on errands or out for lunch, taking the baby will prepare you for when he or she is more mobile. And you'll find out that it's actually fun to get the attention!

5. Be extra sensitive to your partner - While being a new parent is hard on both of you, remember that the baby's mom is also dealing with the ebb and flow of hormones that happens after giving birth.

6. Set a moderate schedule - Just figure on everything taking longer than usual, because when there's a baby, it does.

7. Don't panic - If you have a concern about your baby's health, call your pediatrician. But keep in mind that most babies get sick at some point, and that they are sturdier than they look.

8. Talk to other new fathers - Call it "guys' night out." Talking casually about a situation you can all understand will be extremely helpful, and reassure you that you're not alone.

9. Stay healthy - Your baby needs you to be ready to take care of him or her. Eat well, stay active, and don't take risks at work, when you drive, or play sports. Do things to minimize your stress and stay mentally alert.

10. Go with your gut - You can consult experts and friends all you want, and there's nothing wrong with taking their advice. Just know that you and your partner understand your baby better than anyone else, and that it's worth listening to your instincts.

Get Involved

If you have older kids, here are a few ideas for getting involved in their lives, and boosting your own health at the same time:

  • Cook a healthy family weekend breakfast. If your partner usually does the cooking, it'll be fun for the kids to see what you can do on the kitchen!
  • Build a playroom or jungle gym. What kid doesn't love these? And detailed housework and carpentry are a great way to support your motor and math skills.
  • Coach your child's sports team. Remember to keep it fun, and not let the competition become a source of stress and family conflict.
  • Plant a vegetable garden. Not only will you save money and get some healthy produce, but you can make gardening a time of outdoor family activity.
  • Watch fewer movies. A video might be an easy way to keep the kids quiet, but it's not much encouragement for activity and conversation.
  • Maintain a close relationship. Make a point of asking your children about their lives, beyond simply knowing how they're doing in school. Ask about friends, interests, and changes.

Fatherhood is a big job, and becoming more involved all the time. But it's also a rewarding job, as every father well knows. Enjoy it!


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