June 23, 2013
Social historians and researchers spend untold hours dissecting and documenting the way families function: who does the chores, who earns the dough, who rears the kids. The statistics are fascinating (to me, anyway), but they're clinical. And they're snapshots, which, as we all know, don't show much of the landscape.
Last week I wrote about the sad selection of Father's Day cards and how we dishonor dads by dismissing them as beer-swilling couch potatoes. (Find the column at chicagotribune.com/fathersdaycards.) The reader responses were voluminous and heartfelt and, I think, offer a bigger, clearer picture of how families really do function.
Here are excerpts from a few of the letters:
Thank you for voicing what I feel every year. My dad was not a beer-drinking, lay-around-the-house-when-he's-not-golfing kind of guy, and neither is my husband. Thanks to your message, I am going to make sure my husband gets a handwritten card from me recognizing all that he does as a father. We both work full time, and we split the household duties. He does all the cooking, I do all the laundry. He pays all the bills, I help with homework. I don't need to go on. My kids are lucky to have such an involved dad and see the variety of contributions a father can make to their lives.
— Nancy Coletto
I don't drink or own a hammock and have never given my son or daughter any pointers on how to fart. I always loved being a father and still do, with my children in their early 20s. The role changes over the years, but I still love it. Thanks for a smart column that struck a chord with me.
— Mike Blunk
I was blessed with a father who was none of those dumb, lazy stereotypes. I know in his lifetime he was annoyed with such portrayals, not just in cards but also in commercials and advertising, where the father was invariably a clueless boob with a limited skill-set and even less brains, always being laughed at by his wife and children. It was insulting to all the intelligent, creative things he pursued in his life. Your article is a message to the advertisers and card makers, commercial creators and writers that a far more nuanced and diverse depiction is not just called for, but necessary. To do any less is an insult to the great men who are also fathers in our country.
— Patrick Dunne
I was fortunate to find a very fitting card for my husband for Father's Day — the basic text was, "Happy Father's Day to my Husband ... a guy who's got all the right tools." The pictures were a variety of tools, but on each tool was a word: Love, Passion, Patience, Tenderness, Humor, Brains and Looks. I was so happy to find one that captured him perfectly, as he not only has these qualities, he loves tinkering around the house with tools. After having read through so many cards and being disappointed, once I found this one I only slightly cringed at having to spend $4.99 on it.
— Lauren Streff
As I read your article, I thought you must have read my mind. I am spending today at my dad's bedside in a rehabilitation hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. He suffered a mild stroke last week, on the eve of his 93rd birthday, and I have been helping him and my mom.
I called my husband to wish him a Happy Father's Day. Before flying to Florida, I left a Father's Day card for Jim. I was able to find a fairly reasonable card this year, but it took me a long time. Jim and I talked about how long it took me to find this card and about how cards for any man seem to fall into two categories. "You are a doofus and aren't you lucky you married me, because I am smarter than you and you would fall apart without me." Or "Sex, sex, sex … that's all you think about and that's all we have in common."
There are so many hard-working, caring and wonderful men out there. I know this because I'm lucky enough to have one for my dad and another as the dad to our four kids. It's about time we stood up, gave them a hug and said, "Thank you for all you do for all of us."
— Susan Vroman
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