I have three sons. When they grow up, I hope they will be like their father – intelligent, hardworking, compassionate, honest, and ready to make any sacrifice for the good of his family. There are many such great men out there. Even if you don’t find them in your own family, you’ll meet them coaching little league, volunteering for charities, teaching in schools, or perhaps next door. The fact that Americans are projected to spend $11.1 billion dollars this year on Father’s day (an average of $106.49 per dad)* is evidence that we love our dads and think highly of them.
Our dads may not be perfect, but they are still good, loving men who do their best to make their families happy. The media would have us think otherwise. Their portrayal of fathers is as pathetic as the losers they paint them to be. Everywhere on T.V. we find deadbeat dads, doofus dads, and lazy, irresponsible nincompoops. They are completely incompetent in helping out at home, let alone raising their kids. Of course, the mothers are know-it-all, gorgeous professional women. Their I.Q.’s are about ten times higher than that of their husband, and one wonders why they ever married the over-weight, belching duds in the first place.
Many children’s books follow the same formula. Papa Bear of the Berenstain Bears is just as immature as his kids, if not worse. The father in the series Henry and Mudge is caring, but somewhat of a lame duck. And the father in Diary of a Wimpy Kid is simply a loser. There are an abundance of books with absentee dads, there are many books with dumb dads, but there are very, very few books with admirable dads. I have searched high and low for books with great dads and even so, “My Meager List of Books with Decent or Hero Dads” is sorrowfully meager. I understand that humor sells, and few things are as funny as funny fathers. But we, as a society, have gone too far. And I don’t think it’s just about making money or getting a good laugh. In our desire to promote women’s rights, we have trampled on the dignity of men. In our efforts to attain women’s equality, we have become heralds of women’s superiority. The ubiquitous portrayal of fathers as universally dumb is not only degrading to men. It is also harmful to children. Women are smart and men are dumb. That’s the message our children are hearing over and over and over again. And it’s no laughing matter.
Children do not have a fully developed sense of reality. They often believe what they see and hear. Do we want our boys to grow up believing that all they can aspire to is loserhood? Do we want our daughters to grow up contemptuous of the opposite sex? Or, thinking that they will never be able to meet or marry an intelligent, virtuous man? If not, we need to get off the male-bashing wagon and start showing our children real men of real character. Dad, strive harder to be the super dad your kids want you to be. Mom, avoid criticizing your husband in front of the kids and show your appreciation more often. And please, stop feeding them lies: turn off the boob-tube. If you do so, your kids will see in their dads the heroes they want them to be and fathers will win the respect they yearn for. Let’s bypass the cheap laughs and strive for a deeper happiness. It’s certainly worth the effort.
* NRF’s Consumer Intentions and Actions Father’s Day survey, conducted by BIGresearch
My Meager List of Decent or Hero Dads
Guess How Much I Love You? By Sam McBratney
Tales of Oliver Pig series by Jean Van Leeuwen
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Bread and Jam for Frances series by Russell Hoban
The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
The Littles by John Peterson
Happy Little Family series by Rebecca Caudill
Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Wolf Story by William McCleery
Mitchells series (Although in the first book, Five for Victory, Father is away at war) by Hilda van Stockum
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Mary Cooney is a homeschooling mother of four children and a former high school and piano teacher. She lives in Baltimore, MD.