Each year in the month of June, America takes time out to celebrate dads and grads. For the grad, it’s their day to celebrate the accumulation of work required of them to meet and exceed in order to graduate. From kindergarten to college, to trade school or military, graduations are celebrated all over the nation. Such celebrations are usually memorable chapters in the lives of our children and adult children.
Just as the graduates had to earn their way to graduate, so it is true with fathers. Father’s Day is an earned recognition. It is a day where his child(ren) pay honor to him not because he’s good looking and talented, but rather something far more important. It is the accumulation of work he has invested into his child(ren). Little do fathers realize how much of an impact they have on their child(ren) until years later. This is how the tradition of Father’s Day began in America long before you and I were born. Let’s explore the history then look at some tools a father can pass down to his child(ren).
History of Father’s Day
On December 6, 1907, the first Father’s Day started as a result of a memorial service held in memory of 250 fathers passing away in a coal mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia. These fathers worked daily in the coal mines to provide for their families and ended up losing their lives in the process. Their loss was painful and shocking, leaving behind over 1,000 kids fatherless. To honor them, the survivors called that day Father’s Day. A year later another Father’s Day event took place on the west coast in Spokane Washington with a similar sentiment of sadness. Instead of a large group of fathers passing away, it was the experience of a father of six children who lost his wife during the birth of their sixth child. Mr. William Jackson Dodd’s life was changed dramatically when he lost his wife. He had to teach, provide, and guide his children as a single parent. Similar to the widows in West Virginia on the east coast who honored the fathers who lost their lives in the coal mines, the daughter of William Dodd wanted to honor her father for being the man he was to her and her 5 siblings as well. Influenced by the work of the founder of Mother’s Day led by Ms. Ann Marie Jarvis in 1908, the daughter of William Dodd, Sonora Smart Dodd began to speak into existence the idea of a Father’s Day in honor of her father. She suggested to a group of ministers in Spokane, Washington aka Spokane Ministerial Alliance there should be a day where all fathers are honored annually. Sonora Dodd specified the day should be on June 5th because that was the day her father was born. The Spokane Ministerial Alliance agreed with Sonora in terms of all fathers being recognized. However instead of June 5th, they made it official to be the 3rd Sunday of June. It took place on June 19, 1910 also known as Juneteenth in the State of Texas and beyond. With an established date in place, Father’s Day grew over the years from church to church and community to community. It wasn’t until 1972, some 62 years later that Father’s Day became a nationally recognized day with President Nixon signing an official proclamation making the 3rd Sunday of June a national observance for all fathers.
Making a Connection
Looking back at how the first Father’s Day began, we have to admit the children honoring their father after the passing of their dad had to be an emotional time. It was not easy expressing their love and appreciation. In hindsight, today it is no different for adult children who have grown up and come to understand life and all its rich experiences filled with accumulating bills, car repairs, rent and the long list thereafter. As adults, we tend to have conversations with our father that takes us back to our childhood. Through our conversations we tend to share and ask for answers to questions we didn’t understand. This is the moment when Father’s Day becomes real from the heart of a child who is now a grown-up and perhaps a parent. Typically what a new father will do during his childrearing years is pass down to his child(ren) the same tools his father passed down to him. At Practice U we define these tools as a resource we use to help us produce a product. They are necessary to make a job easier to accomplish an end goal. With that being said I will focus on 3 tools we believe will be helpful for fathers to produce a good product within his child(ren). The 3 tools are healthy communication, storytelling and trust, Each tool will address 3 different periods in a child’s life ages 0-10, 10-12 and 13-19.
The first period of a child’s life age 0-10 requires the tool of healthy communication. Healthy communication is one of the foundational tools that is needed early on and will be needed in the preteen years and beyond. Getting together with your child one on one and doing things together is one way of enhancing healthy communication. It is during these moments a father shares with son or daughter how much he loves his child as they make things together from Legos to homework to cooking, playing sports, music and more. Healthy communication leads to opportunities to teach boundaries within the household and our society. It allows a father to explain rewards and consequences for doing what's right versus wrong thinking and behavior, what it means to work, how to interact with people and so much more. This is such a meaningful period in a child’s life because it is during these first 10 years of life, our child(ren) will easily comply with everything a father says. They love being rewarded and cared for.
Storytelling That Builds Wisdom
However, as a father’s child transitions into their preteen years ages 10-12, their personality may begin to change. Not all preteens start to show their new disposition during their growing years. But for those preteens who do, they sometimes question the rules of the house or life in general. This is the time where dad has to reach into his toolbox and use story telling as one of his tools to pull his child into a discussion. Pulling stories from a collection of Aesop’s Fables is always a good choice. It allows a dad to use his different voices and funny faces to capture his child’s attention, leading into a discussion that needs to be had. The goal is to help his child see themselves or a lesson about life. For example, one of my favorite fables is “The 6 Blind Men and the Elephant” from an Indian village. The moral of the story is about how different opinions can lead to criticism, put downs and passionate arguments, because each person feels as though they have the ultimate truth. This happens all the time in our society and sometimes in the family. Notice, the opinions in this fable were coming from a blind man’s misunderstanding and perspective. Not ignoring other pieces to pull from this fable, the point is having a discussion after a fable such as this one helps a father to explain acceptable and unacceptable behavior without fussing. It is also the time where dad makes it clear his expectations of his child(ren) along with the do's and don'ts in life. The more dad spends time in finding good fables to use, the more he expands his toolbox using storytelling to build patience and wisdom, teaching his child(ren) to think before you speak, act or react. Listen to what the person is saying and not saying.
Teaching MVP Character that Leads to Trust
The third period is the teenage years, age 13 -19. This period requires a father to continue to stay ahead of the game in moving his child(ren) from accountability to high MVP character to trust. The MVP stands for morals, values, and principles. Each character trait is a mini lesson within itself that leads to the highest level of accountability called trust. Without the MVP lessons ingrained in the brain, there will be no trust. To ensure the father’s child understands, there has to be a time where dad sits down and ask his child to tell me what you remember about high MVP character. Ask questions like, “What are morals, values and principles?” Give me an example. Why are they important? What are you going to say if your friend(s) don’t agree with the lessons I’ve taught you? The talk should be so well discussed that it allows the teen to show he or she is taking ownership. Ultimately, teaching character development is a survival tool a father needs to pass down to his child(ren). To become good at it will require reading books about the subject and talking to other fathers. And here is why. Eventually a teen will ask, “Can I go out on a date or go to a concert without adult supervision? Better yet, "Can I drive the car? Before they start asking those type of questions, dad needs to be convinced his child is equipped with the type of self-disciplined behavior he can trust his child. This lesson amongst many other lessons is what an adult child will remember. It makes a Father’s Day conversation meaningful when a dad hears his adult child’s heart express openly and freely what they learned from the tools he passed down to his child(ren).
In closing, this is why I stated from the beginning, fatherhood is earned. It takes an accumulation of work he has to pour into his child(ren), to produce a good product. Like Mrs. Sonora Dodd, the founder of Father’s Day on June 19, 1910, she too was appreciative of her dad as an adult. Today, it is no different. Children grow up and become adults. They are equipped with whatever they were taught as a child, preteen and teenage years, good or bad. We're all a reflection of our upbringing and practice is where it all begins. Tell us what you think on Facebook.