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Sunday is Father’s Day, and if you are lucky enough to be able to visit with dear old Dad (or at least give him a telephone call), consider yourself most fortunate.  Lots of folks have fathers who live out of town, are serving their country on foreign shores, or are no longer living.  Sadly, many kids grow up never having the opportunity to know their father.  For all of us, Father’s Day should be a time for contemplation and loving reminiscence. 

The idea of Father's Day was conceived slightly more than a century ago by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., while she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm.

A day in June was chosen for the first Father’s Day celebration --101 years ago, June 19, 1910, proclaimed by Spokane's mayor because it was the month of Smart's birth. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.  Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

The nice people over at the U.S. Bureau of the Census have sent us some interesting statistics to think about on this holiday:

  • 70.1 million.  Estimated number of fathers across the nation.
  • 25.3 million.  Number of fathers who were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2010.
  • 1.8 million.  Number of single fathers in 2010; 15 percent of single parents were men.
  • 154,000.  Estimated number of stay-at-home dads in 2010. These married fathers with children younger than 15 have remained out of the labor force for at least one year primarily so they can care for the family while their wives work outside the home. These fathers cared for 287,000 children.
  • $2.8 billion.  Amount of child support received by custodial fathers in 2007; they were due $4.3 billion. In contrast, custodial mothers received $18.6 billion of the $29.8 billion in support that was due.
  • 45%.  Percentage of custodial fathers who received all child support that was due in 2007, not significantly different from the corresponding percentage for custodial mothers.
  • 53% and 71%.  Percentages of children younger than 6 who ate breakfast and dinner, respectively, with their father every day in 2006. The corresponding percentages who ate with their mother were 58 percent and 80 percent. (The percentages of children who ate breakfast with their mother or father, respectively, were not significantly different from each another.)
  • 6.  Average times children ages 3 to 5 were read to by their fathers in the past week, as of 2006.
  • 66%.  Percentage of children younger than 6 who were praised three or more times a day by their fathers.

NOTE TO DADS:  Let’s agree to work on raising that last percentage…

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About Thomas McAdam

At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.

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