Equal time for Father’s Day
by bette dewing

For those who once complained about a Father’s Day column because “those who aren’t fathers feel left out on this holiday,” I again remind, “but we all have, or have had fathers, and they’re what the day is all about.” The same goes for Mother’s Day, of course.

And I know some of you have also come to believe that Father’s Day deserves the same attention Mother’s Day receives. Speaking of equality. And also that fathering qualities should have the same cultural value as mothering ones — to solve many of our seemingly intractable social problems. Of course they must be role modeled in high places — like this White House especially. Dream on? Well. why not. Set one good example the world could sure use now, and not only on Father’s Day.

Note as well other studies which say fathers need to treat very young sons the same as they do to very young daughters — singing to them and talking to them — a lot. This helps boys become more empathetic and communicative. A very good thing.

And to save healthy relationships, also health, there’s no greater than caring communication, which this Father’s Day column about. Most potentially nurturing, of course, is the voice-to-voice and in-person kind. And about a most favorite invention, the telephone, the landline phone is preferred for its mellow tone and its clarity. (Elder advocates please note.) The cell is great for emergencies. But iPhone use needs a whole lot of limiting, but not when it comes to communicating with longtime dads. They may not even have access, and far more needs to be said and done about that.

Thankfully, we do hear about studies about children feeling unloved by mothers and fathers who use iPhones too much in their presence. Imagine! To quote former columnist Russell Baker, “Progress Strikes again!”

Except it’s not funny, and so let’s make a Father’s Day vow to set limits — to find that healthy balance, and between generations, so that no one is left out. This is the plight of many longtime dads in a culture where generational apartheid is advanced. Sad stories are rarely told, not only because elders rarely share them, but also because males are subject to a culture still rife with macho dictates and demands. So maybe they talk about sports instead.

And not only on Father’s Day, let’s make family gatherings truly nurturing. Let there be enough talk about what really matters so Father’s Day will not be a day of remembering in a year of too much forgetting — unintentional indifference.

Ah, and if there are no families or close friends, here’s to groundswell support from neighbors, civic- and faith-group people — and above all, the media, whose rare “old folks coverage” is about the highly active and very atypical elder. Gotta change that, especially with the fastest-growing age group being the 85-plussers. But do you know of any strong advocates since we lost Dr. Robert Butler?

I again urge you to call elected officials whose numbers are conveniently found in this paper’s Useful Contacts column, Tell them, attention must be paid to this age group which potentially has the most problems, but rarely gets to civic meetings to share them. Or even gets to faith services because our culture has yet to urge the able-bodied to automatically assist those who are not. And shouldn’t that become the law of the land? Not to mention the “It takes a village” mandate.

Remembering your father and mine with very much love — and also much needed action for all the above.