In Our View: Happy Father’s Day

A Washington-grown holiday remains as relevant as ever

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For those who wonder about Eastern Washington’s contributions to America — other than Granny Smith apples and Bing Crosby, neither of which is actually a native — check your calendar. Today is Father’s Day, conceived by Sonora Dodd of Spokane while she listened to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909.

Dodd’s father, William Smart, was a widowed Civil War veteran who raised his six children while working his farm, according to information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The first Father’s Day was proclaimed by the mayor of Spokane on June 19, 1910. This month was chosen for the holiday because Smart’s birthday was June 5.

The date — the third Sunday in June — was permanently established in 1966 by Lyndon Johnson, and in 1972 Richard Nixon signed a public law making Father’s Day an annual event.

Whether this is the 101st Father’s Day or the 39th is irrelevant, of course. Today should be about celebrating good male role models and appreciating family relationships. Though the many problems created by poor fathers grab much of our attention, it’s the quiet majority we thank today.

What do we know about fathers? From the Census’ American Community Survey, we know Clark County has a lot of them. More than 90,000 Clark County men (56 percent of all males older than 15) are married and living with their wives. And with more than 110,000 children younger than 18 in the county, they are doing a lot of parenting.

Some other facts about Father’s Day compiled by the Census Bureau:

• The United States has about 70.1 million fathers, including 25.3 million who were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18. Of this group, 22 percent were raising three or more young children.

• About 1.8 million men were single fathers raising dependent children, including 30 percent who have never been married. Most of them must be working, as 39 percent said their family income was at least $50,000 a year.

• Stay-at-home dads remain a small percentage of parents. In 2010, an estimated 154,000 dads with children younger than 15 stayed at home to care for them. A lot more couples split up the child care duties, with 16 percent of men reporting they cared for their preschoolers while their mother was at work.

According to the Census Bureau, dads like Charlie Sheen are, thankfully, an anomaly. In fact, the statistics suggest most men are pretty good fathers. More than half of children younger than 6 eat breakfast with their father every morning, and 71 percent have dinner with him. More than one in three children younger than 6 have 15 or more outings with their father in a typical month.

Dads read to their preschool children an average of six times per week, and 66 percent of preschoolers were praised three or more times a day by their fathers.

With this display of mostly good parenting, it’s appropriate to say thanks.

How will dads be rewarded? The National Retail Federation recently sponsored a survey that found 75.5 percent of Americans planned to celebrate Father’s Day this year. Most of them will buy Dad a gift, spending an average of $106.49, compared with $94.32 last year. (Many will buy more than one gift, with those buying consumer electronics being the most generous, spending an average $67.20.)

Taking Dad out will be popular, with 42 percent of the people surveyed saying they will treat him to an outing such as dinner or brunch. They’ll eat well, too, with the check expected to average $46.81.

Sonora Dodd was proud of her father. Today we show appreciation to ours.