It’s Father’s Day this Sunday. But as The Washington Post points out, even on Dad’s day, he is often the butt of the joke.
As the story explains, a scan of Father’s Day cards suggests that dads are portrayed as the irresponsible, beer-guzzling, TV-watching “buffoon.”
“Such cards are top sellers among the 87 million Father’s Day cards that will be given this year,” notes the Post.
While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with a little humor, it is telling that society’s perception of dad—not only on greetings cards but in the media as well (think Homer Simpson)—is often that of an overgrown, irresponsible adolescent.
But fathers play a serious part in their children’s development. As Heritage’s Ryan Anderson points out in a piece earlier this week, “dads play particularly important roles in the formation of children.” He cites Rutgers University sociologist David Popenoe that “the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable.”
Children raised by their married, biological mothers and fathers tend to do best on a number of outcomes, including educational achievement, emotional health, and behavioral outcomes.
And, as University of Virginia professor Brad Wilcox notes in a Washington Post article this week, children raised in homes with their married, biological fathers are far less likely to experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse (same for their mothers).
Wilcox also recently published a study showing that children with involved fathers are on average more likely to graduate from college. Involved fathers are more likely to be their biological, married fathers. While not necessarily a surprising finding, it is one more to add to the list of reasons why dad matters.
Sadly, fathers are too often absent from the picture. Marital decline and the subsequent rise of unwed childbearing mean that many children are not connected to dad. Forty percent of children are born to single mothers annually, and 55 percent of children spend time outside their intact families by the time they reach 18 (not always away from dad, but often).
While many Father’s Day cards may be funny, the reality is that dads play a serious role in their children’s lives. Helping children have better relationships with their dads begins with strengthening marriage. A culture of marriage should be restored, particularly in communities where it has seen the greatest decline, most often in lower-income and increasingly more so in working-class communities.
Men, women, and the children they create are longing for happy, stable relationships with one another. Greater effort is needed to help individuals achieve that noble and innate human desire. Doing so would help ensure the well-being of the next generation and those to follow.