One look at greeting cards reveal dads are often the butt of jokes
By Patrick Vaillancourt, Contributor
The holidays commemorating our parents should truly be days of thanksgiving—days of reflection for all that our parents do, and have done, for their children. Many will argue that Mother’s and Father’s day, are commercial initiatives concocted by greeting card companies, and to a degree they’re right. Despite the commercial nature, there can be no denying that one day a year devoted to serving mom or dad is most appropriate in this individualistic society of ours.
In the case of Mother’s Day, spouses and children go out of their way to make mom feel loved. Whether it be breakfast in bed or a day at the spa, mom typically has nothing to worry about on that second Sunday in May.
It’s interesting, however, to compare the treatment of moms on Mother’s Day with how we show appreciation for our dads on their day.
Of course, I don’t like to make generalizations or blanket statements about how people differ in terms of showing thanks to their fathers. For me, Father’s Day was somewhat of a foreign experience given that I did not spend my childhood growing up with my father. That being said, it does not take credentials in sociology to understand that there exists a vast difference between the ways we honour our mothers and fathers on these days.
One need look no further than the greetings cards we buy for our parents.
A typical Mother’s Day card will be rather feminine, adorned with flowers, soft colours, and things that symbolize the sacrifice of motherhood. The words inside the cards are beautifully written and often poetic. I, for one, look at dozens of Mother’s Day cards before I find the right one which conveys the message I wish to send.
Father’s Day cards are often comical and cartoonish, portraying men as aloof breadwinners whose sole responsibility in raising their children is to give them a weekly allowance. The wording in your typical Father’s Day card will most likely include a punchline, meant to give dad a lighthearted chuckle.
I’m not sure why this difference exists. Perhaps it’s because fathers are too macho for the thoughtfulness of poetic words we give to our mothers; perhaps it has something to do with gender roles and the division of household labour. The case could be made that society has given mothers more of the responsibility for raising children and housekeeping.
However, society is evolving. The nuclear family of dad at work and mom at home is a luxury only afforded to the higher class. As both parents work, the division of household chores becomes a necessity, and studies are showing that men are becoming more involved in household and childrearing responsibilities. Statistics Canada reported in 2014 that 71 per cent of Generation Y men who are married with children participated in regular housework, while 93 per cent of Generation Y women married with children participated in regular housework. I will not claim that it’s an equal division of work, but the gap is much smaller than it used to be.
Yet, we continue to portray fathers as drunk couch potatoes handing out allowances. Is Father’s Day really a day of honouring our family’s patriarch, or is it now just a day where dad must roll with the punches of his own deprecation?
As a child, I never bought Father’s Day cards for my dad—not because of the jokes contained within them, but I did not have the luxury of growing up with him. I didn’t even know Father’s Day existed until I was about 10 years old. As I write this article on the subject, I thought I’d end it with an homage to my father, still the strongest man I ever knew, and forever the man I hope to make proud.
Life is awfully short, so instead of a card that belittles dad for the things he gives us, why not share a moment with him that’s more serious in nature?