An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
June 16, 2007
It follows Mother's Day by five weeks, and comes on the third Sunday in June, when there's a lot of other stuff going on. President Calvin Coolidge declared Father's Day a national observance in 1924 -- 10 years after President Woodrow Wilson had done the same for Mother's Day.
And, by the measure everybody understands -- money -- Mother's Day is way ahead. The estimated spending on Mother's Day this year was $15.7 billion; for Father's Day, it will be $9.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
The average person this year spent $139 on Mother's Day; for Father's Day, it will be $98. That's up $10 from last year, but then Mother's Day is up $17.
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The institution of fatherhood is so important in American life that it seems most often noticed by its absence, notably the problem of children being raised by single mothers or grandparents because the father is absent.
The Census Bureau says there are about 64.3 million fathers in the United States living with their children in a variety of familial arrangements, including 26.5 million fathers who are part of a married couple with children under 18; and 2.5 million single-parent fathers, a number that's increased sixfold since 1970, 8 percent of them raising three or more children under 18. There are 150,000 stay-at-home dads.
The family meal with the father present has become something of a casualty of modern life, and the Census figures show it's not as bad as it might be but not as good as it could be.
Only about two-thirds of children younger than 6 living with married parents or a single father eat with their fathers every day. And, rounding off the numbers slightly, only about 60 percent of children younger than 6 are praised by their fathers three or more times a day.
There's room for improvement there, but in the meantime, happy Father's Day and, hey, wear protective eyewear around those power tools.
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