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Apodaca: Dad's role is just as important as Mom's

June 16, 2012|By Patrice Apodaca

"It's a wise father that knows his own child."

William Shakespeare wrote that in his play, "The Merchant of Venice."

Anyone who stayed awake during high school English knows that quotes from the Bard are drenched with layer upon layer of meaning. But, as today is Father's Day, best not to go too deep.

For all the dads out there, today is the time for the nation to recognize that it isn't moms alone who are meant to shoulder the burden and savor the joys of raising children. So lap up the gratitude Dad, for tomorrow you'll be back to your under-appreciated normal.

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There's just one thing I can't help noticing, though. Father's Day is supposed to put dear old Dad on equal footing with Mom on the gratefulness scale, but it doesn't really seem to play out that way.

As much as we might pretend otherwise, Mother's Day is treated with more respect, more gravitas, if you will, than Father's Day.

I mean, heaven forbid you should forget to call or send flowers, overcook pancakes, or whatever else for Mom. On Mother's Day, you'd better deliver or you'll carry the weight of guilt for an entire year.

Father's Day seems, well, just a little easier to coast through, and the numbers bear that thought out. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to shell out a total of $12.7 billion for Dad's special day this year.

Not too shabby, you might think, but it's a mere pittance compared with the estimated $18.6 billion spent on Mother's Day.

Even the origins of Father's Day betray its second-class status.

The concept of Mother's Day dates back to the 19th century. By 1909, egged on by the retail establishment, the vast majority of states recognized the day, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution making the second Sunday in May a day of national observance of mothers.

Father's Day, by contrast, emerged as more of an afterthought — as well as another retailing opportunity — decades after. Despite half-hearted attempts over the years to make Father's Day official, it didn't achieve permanent national status until President Richard Nixon signed off on the idea in 1972.

Thus, the third Sunday of June became Father's Day, and Americans have been struggling ever since to try to figure out what the heck to do about it.

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