Happy Father’s Day!
At Dragonfly Designs we are focused on art education. When you work with children and youth, you can’t help but to have such an immense appreciation for the families of those children. I sent out a newsletter in honor of Mother’s Day last month, and this month we get to enjoy Father’s Day!
This last week we finished up our After-School Enrichment class for this school year. One of my students astutely asked me why we weren’t doing a Father’s Day textiles project like we had for Mother’s Day. While yes, we were nearly out of time for the class, I decided to ask her if she had some project ideas she thought would be fun and that we could make in time for Father’s Day.
With the little time we had left, we were able to come up with a game plan that allowed her to create something she was excited about after school ended and in time for Father’s Day.
In honor of Father’s Day, and the men who take on that role, I elected to do some research on the history of Father’s Day itself. As with many holidays, the process of making it official was a bit of a bumpy road.
Father’s Day wasn’t officially a national holiday until 1972, when President Richard Nixon was able to get it to be a full-fledged holiday, and not just an executive order (which was put into action by Lyndon B Johnson in 1966).
While it’s fun to think about history and holidays, what truly matters is how our society and our individual cultures have embraced this special day!
So, in the spirit of introspection,
I ask you, what is a father?
There is, of course, the obvious answer of biology.
While biology is a certain aspect of “fatherhood,” broader scientific approaches tell us that it goes deeper than that. How do fathers influence our relationships? Early patterns of interaction with parents and family members are so important that not only will it help define a child’s intrinsic idea of who they are and how they relate to others, but it also creates a foundational understanding of what a child considers to be acceptable and loving.
Now, that’s a lot of responsibility placed on family. The reality is that there are many types of parents, and many configurations of families Not everyone has a “father” or grows up with a father in a central role in their lives. Families are diverse in their possibilities. There’s also the classic phrase, “There’s the family you’re born with, and the family you choose.” Both are valid. Both make our lives profound.
I personally grew up without a father. He died when I was very young, and because of this, I do not have memories of him. I only have a few pictures of him holding me as a baby. I did have my mother’s father, my grandfather, from when I was born until I was 21, when he too passed. I loved him dearly. He was born in 1903, so when I came along, he had been a father to eight children, all of whom were grown and now had their own families.
He was 68 years old when I was born. I have memories of him teaching me to play dominos and checkers, or watching me as I rode my “Big Wheel” up and down the block as a young child.
Not until I had my own kids with my husband have I truly been able to observe the depth of connection a father can have with his own children. The day my first child was born, I was in recovery and my husband was holding our son. The room was peaceful, and my son was fast asleep. My husband was holding him so gently, enveloped in the first-time feeling of looking at our son — touching his tiny fingers and toes. He was quietly and joyfully crying at the newness of holding our baby. In that moment, I knew my son would have a beautiful relationship with his dad, my husband. We have memories, pictures and a whole lifetime of love to come. I think to myself even still, what a gift!
When people, like myself, don’t have this type of father relationship available to them, we tend to look toward individuals who are “father figures” and who we feel we can turn to for advice and support, much the same way that others might turn to their father.
I asked my now almost 14-year-old son what celebrating Father’s Day meant to him. He told me that it was showing love for his dad, appreciating both his father’s shining qualities and his imperfections – and loving him for both. This reflection felt profound coming from someone so young.
I then asked my son if he could think what it might be like to not have a father, who would he turn to when he felt he needed advice on how to become a man? He was able to tell me names of teachers, coaches, his uncle, and leaders in our church community that could provide that support and connection.
I just recently came across a picture on my Instagram feed of a dad wearing a t-shirt that said, “Dad’s Don’t Babysit, It’s Called Parenting”. I love this political statement as fathers everywhere are claiming their right to parent, support, and love their children. I’m enjoying watching the world rally around this movement toward participation, presence, and equality.
This is an awesome progression from eras where fathers were expected to be less involved in their children’s lives.
Frankly, I’d get a shirt for my husband if I thought he would wear it in public. Instead I’ll have to find other ways to celebrate him this Sunday, June 17th.
I hope you find ways to celebrate your father, the father of your children or any and all inspirational men you have known or know in your life. Men who are supportive, positive, caring, engaged and present are all around us and deserving of our celebration. So, don’t hesitate to take a moment to express your appreciation for the people that take on those father figure roles with dedication and compassion! In getting to know all of you, your children, and your families, our hearts are full to the brim with appreciation from here. We hope you can feel it!
Happy Father’s Day!