June 23, 2016
By Steve Kropper – Based in Boston, he is the lucky father of two daughters. On his grave he hopes to inscribe “My daughters are proof of magic”.
On Fathers Day, American dads are in good company. From Argentina to Russia, from Kenya to Japan, most nations seem to set a day to celebrate fatherhood.
The first US "Father’s Day" was 1908, when a West Virginia mining community was mourning the Monongah Mining Disaster. 361 men were killed, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children.
I surveyed the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times to find out the current meaning of Father’s Day in the U.S.
Father’s Day news articles suggest that we men like sports, we want gifts (or our loved ones want to buy us something). We like to cook and look at recipes. We take delight in inspiring and impacting our kids’ careers. We revel in a bit of respect and the chance to share our wisdom and experience. So indulge us for a day. We want to show you our world – give us a chance to show our children and partners what makes us happy, because maybe it would make you happy too. But really, we want time with our kids and partners, on our terms one day a year.
Here is a selection of headlines on what newspapers think of us as Fathers:
The Trib Celebrated, not just Father’s Day, but Fathers WEEK – a week of articles about Dad. The sports section leveraged baseball stars in “What baseball fathers know: Advice from Cubs and White Sox Dads”. The Health section lauded fathers “Meet the modern dad: Hands-on and clued-in.” The Food section gave dining tips “20 Father’s Day restaurant deals” and covered our libation legacy: “For some of us, dear ol’ dad was our first introduction into the world of beer”. The Life section went deep by covering “The perception of Asian dads and masculinity”. Finally, the Trib advised on “Cool things to do with dad for Father’s Day” and “Father’s Day gifts with style”.
Los Angeles Times
Every newspaper gave gift advice. One Times headline was “Father’s Day: Gifts for dear old dad.” Another “Weekly obsessions: A Father’s Day gift guide”. And in the Fashion section, “18 fashion-forward gifts to consider for Father’s Day.” For time together, how about mixing sports: “Catch ‘Field of Dreams’ at the Crest Theaters for Father’s Day”. Fatherhood even warranted an Op-Ed covering “Mick Jagger, modern patriarch has a grandchild!” More recipes in “Oh, Daddy! 10 Father’s Day recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen”. The Entertainment section looked at another star father “For father-daughter duo Clint and Alison Eastwood, directing is a family business”. This highlighted a recurring theme of fathers hoping their kids would find satisfying careers. We fathers like to feel like a font of knowledge…at least one day a year, so the Home & Garden section columnist said “”This Father’s Day, I’d like to pass on a few "dadisms" – little bolts of wisdom.”
The best stories of fathers passing on career advice were in the Herald “Making dads proud on Father’s Day and every day – Sons and daughters find satisfaction in taking after their father’s professions.” and another piece focused on the food business “Father and daughter restaurant owners.” Time together was lauded in “Families enjoy Father’s Day weekend at Summer Fruit Fest in Redland.” and here was another of the ubiquitous pieces “Just in time for Father’s Day: The Cheerio Challenge (Dads pile Cheerios on sleeping baby’s forehead)”. How come I did not think of that? The Herald’s Letters to the Editor made space for a few themed “Happy Fathers Day.”
In Boston, the Globe raised a trending theme far from the hopes and dreams of the average dad with a story on a transgender father. The Lifestyle section had three stories, with the first: “What will Papa Gronk get for Father’s Day? Father’s Day gifts for way cool dads.” The second let us escape from the necktie and gift theme to focus on quality time “Skip the tie, and treat dad to a special weekend.” and another “Turn his special day into a weekend? We offer some great places where you can make that happen.” The Cheerios mischief appeared again “The dad Cheerio challenge is as ridiculous as you (Why not Shredded Wheat I wonder?)” A book review covered “Father’s Day” by Simon Van Booy (Harper)” and the Sports section covered “A basketball camp where fathers and sons connect.”
Finally, the Post followed the loving theme of President Obama feeling a loss as he was about to send a daughter off to Harvard or a Gap year in “The fascinating tribal tradition that gave Obama his father.” and for balance another story was titled “Father’s Day Republican dads think they’re great fathers.” The Local news section headlined “Proud of his Dad almost no matter what his father did or didn’t do. It’s just the nature of the beast — and the relationship.” While another stumbled on the Homer Simpson theme “We recognize Dad as “the lumbering oaf, the person who gets things wrong, the person who doesn’t know how things work.” The Mass Incarceration issue was covered in this piece ‘Father’s Day as a free man – For 22 years, Father’s Day was an aching reminder that I was missing the life of my daughter, Rajean. She was 8 when I was sent to prison.” Only one piece recognized heroism “A father-to-be was fatally shot trying to stop his neighbors’ deadly rampage.” The Business section picked up the career theme, “I watched my dad work, and I learned about life.”
So what does this news coverage say about us on Fathers day. We are exceptional and ordinary. Perhaps less expressive, or less solicited than our womenfolk. We are mischievous, protective, proud and our deepest concern is the welfare of our children.