Why It's Every Father's Duty to Celebrate HImself

Self on 06.17.11
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Image credit: Jenni Grover

Fathers' Day is upon us again and, like last year, I completely forgot that I now get to count myself among the celebrated - as opposed to just feeling bad because I mailed a card to my own Dad too late. (Which I did. Again.)

It's not that I don't value my own contributions as a Dad at all. I know from the beautiful hugs my daughter has been giving me that I must be doing something right. And, like any parent, when I look objectively at the late nights; the early mornings; and the endless piggy-back rides; games of tickle monster; and being forced to watch Wow Wow Wubbzy one more time, I know that I put in my fair share of work.

But it still feels strange to have a whole day dedicated to me, and my role as a father. The fact is that when I watch how hard my wife parents day-in, and day-out, and think of her role in bringing our daughter into this world,  my part in it all just starts to feel a little, well, easy.

But I may not be alone. If John's take on recent research about the relative financial worth of stay-at-home-moms versus stay-at-home-dads is to be believed, many fathers undervalue their own role in parenting their children. And I suspect there may be some cultural elements in play. While women have no doubt had the rough end of the stick when it comes to equality over the years, I do think we do a better job culturally of celebrating motherhood, and mothers, than we do fathers. From the symbolic metaphor of mother nature, to the devotion many feel to the Virgin Mary, the fact is that motherhood- quite rightly - holds a central place in our collective imaginations. Fatherhood, however, is much less defined.

While it may be tempting to view fathers' undervaluing of their own role as humility - like any form of self-deprecation, it can just as easily be viewed as a cop out. There is plenty of research to show that fatherlessness can lead to all sorts of personal and social problems, and conversely, that a healthy role with a father figure helps to ensure a well-rounded human being. It's about time that as a culture, we both learned to celebrate fathers, and to better prepare boys for the role that  is expected of them should they choose to breed. 

So this Fathers' Day I will be actively, completely, and without embarassement be celebrating myself, my own father, and in fact all fathers. We owe it to the mothers of this world to man up and admit that we are worth it.

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Tags: Married Life