Here’s to You, DadJune 13, 2008
My dad is 86 and going strong. He’s a voracious reader, so getting him a book he hasn’t read is always a challenge. But no matter what I end up with, he never lets on that he may have read it before. It’s always, “I’ve heard about this” or “I wanted it but haven’t gotten it yet.” I’ve tried the bookstore gift card approach, but he never seems to remember to bring the cards with him to the bookstore and apparently has quietly stashed piles of them in a drawer.
At the bookstore this year the collection under the “Gifts for Dad” sign focused on sports, cars, and the military — the typical assumed choices for dads, but certainly limiting. So I ended up doing an unofficial poll right on the spot and asked a few men what kinds of books they would want as gifts from their daughters. (Yes, I self-selected, asking if they had daughters.) First they wanted to know who I was with, whether they would be quoted, and if they had to buy anything. Once they were satisfied with my response, they answered my few questions cheerfully.
The results? The first answer, unanimously given, was that they were always happy with any gift their daughter gave them. When probed a bit further, some admitted that their daughters tried to be subtle (or maybe not so subtle) by giving them self-help books on areas their daughters thought needed improvement. After that, the answers were as diverse as the men were, depending on their personal interests. But the overwhelming sense of pride these individuals had in their daughters was evident, as almost everyone talked more about their daughter than about the subject at hand.
Dads and Daughters, led by longtime Title IX champion and AAUW ally Joe Kelly, is an advocacy nonprofit that encourages fathers to engage in their daughters’ lives. In an earlier interview with AAUW, Kelly cited studies correlating fathers’ presence at home, time spent child rearing, and affection shared with daughters with a later onset of puberty in girls, which in turn reduces the chances of teen pregnancy, depression, alcohol consumption, and disturbed body image. A study of third- and fourth-graders found a link between fathers’ provision of warmth and their daughters’ higher academic achievement. Joe’s blog in honor of Father’s Day, which appears on the newly revised Dads and Daughters website, also reminds us to honor our stepdads this year.
So here’s to dads! While we honor them on Sunday, I thought one of the answers a dad gave me summed it up best. “I have two daughters,” he said. “But we gave up celebrating Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) years ago. We decided to celebrate being a dad and mom everyday!”