This Sunday is Fathers’ Day. (I never really know if it should be “Fathers’ Day” or “Father’s Day!” Regardless, to all you Dads out there, I hope you have a GREAT day)!
Dads today have a hard time getting any respect. It’s as if we are all a bunch of Rodney Dangerfields. “No respect! No respect at all!” Try watching the trend in commercials on any major network (except ESPN, which gears its ads to men) and you’ll see what I mean. Dads/husbands are depicted as buffoons who add nothing to the safety and care of the home. Mainsteam television depicts them the same way. How we men even function seems to be a mystery! Of course, it was not always that way.
When I was a child in the 1960s, many immensely popular television shows depicted life with no Mom at all. While Robert Young’s Father Knows Best (1954-1960) had already gone off the air, look at some of these “momless” offerings:
The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968): Single Dad Andy, with the help of “A’int Bee,” raises little Opie in Mayberry, RFD;
Bonanza (1959-1973): Cowboy tough guy Ben Cartwright teaches sons Adam, Hoss and Little Joe about the lessons in life (this show depicted a RECORD loss of THREE wives as each son had a DIFFERENT deceased Mom);
The Rifleman (1958-1963): Rancher Lucas McCain raises son Mark in the old west of North Fork, New Mexico;
Family Affair (1966-1971): Uncle Bill raises Cissy, Buffy & Jody, orphaned kids of his brother, with the help of his “Gentleman’s Gentleman,” Mr. French;
My Three Sons (1960-1972): Widower Fred MacMurray raises his trio of boys with the help of good ole “Uncle Charlie;”
Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942): (No explanation necessary … this movie always makes me cry).
I’m certain there are plenty more examples, but these immediately come to mind with no effort. My Mom used to always complain, “Why are there no Mothers in these shows?” But the trend today shows a complete reversal. Despite the infamous and too-much hyped Murphy Brown vs Dan Quayle War about the merits of single motherhood, our society today downplays the importance of men in general and Dads in particular. Sadly, real-life mirrors that depiction.
According to the 2009 study, The New Demography of American Motherhood, 41% of births were to unmarried women in 2008. That’s up from 28% in 1990 and 13% in 1970. The trend crossed major racial and ethnic groups. Of single parent homes, 84% are headed by a woman. And no matter how you spin it, that’s NOT a good thing. Check out this web-site for some pretty shocking stats on single-parent homes and the fruit it bears. For he who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind.
Fathers’ Day is not really an old, antiquated tradition, either. The first observance of Father’s Day took place in Fairmont, WV on July 5, 1908. It was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, who wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in a mining disaster the past winter. She chose the Sunday nearest to the birthday of her recently deceased father.
The day became the object of commercialization by astute business men in the 1930s, seeing it as a way to make money on sales. It was not until 1966 that LBJ issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. President Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
This is the first Fathers’ Day for me to face without my own father, William Cain Sr., who passed away May 14, 2011. It’s a natural walk of life that we all experience if life proceeds as planned, but as I reflect on my life, I am so thankful that I was raised by both a Mom and a Dad who loved me and took care of me not out of necessity or obligation or as a tax credit, but because they WANTED me in their lives. I would not be anything close to the person I am had it not been for BOTH of their care and influence.
And so, I tip my hat to all the Dads out there who are reading this, and to anyone who has or had a Father whom you loved. Dads may get a bad rap from Hollywood and society, but in my book, they still walk pretty tall! Thanks for all the memories, Dad. When I grow up, I want to be just like you!
Following his run on The Rifleman, Chuck Connors starred in the short but acclaimed series, Branded! (1965-1966). In one episode, Johnny Crawford, who played son Mark in The Rifleman, makes a guest appearance. I’ve always loved the scene above from the end of that episode … it seemed like a Father/Son reunion to me … and on some level, I guess it was. Father/son relationships can fray over time as sons become men and Dads age beyond their years. I saw it with my Dad and as the Father of two men, I see it from a different perspective. This clip is my gift to all the Dads out there this Fathers’ Day (or is it Father’s Day?) I hope you enjoy it!