Monday, April 30, 2007

Fathers Day

'Father! - To God Himself We Cannot Give a Holier name!' - William Wordsworth

The above quote completely defines the meaning of being a father, and the various responsibilities the male parent has on his shoulders. We salute fathers all around the world and honor them on 'Father's Day'. Father's Day is the male equivalent of Mother's Day. Just as Mother's Day celebrates motherhood, Father's Day celebrates fatherhood. Father's Day originated in USA. Father's Day is celebrated on Saint Joseph's Day in the Roman Catholic tradition. Saint Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary, and therefore, foster father to Jesus. Saint Joseph’s Day is celebrated in some branches of Christianity in honor of the Saint. In Roman Catholicism, it is a feast celebrated on March 19.

In the USA, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. Father's Day is celebrated on differing days around the globe, and in some countries, it is a secular celebration. In the USA, Sonora Smart Dodd is considered instrumental in the founding of the 'Father's Day' tradition. Her father, the Civil War Veteran William Jackson Smart, had raised six children as a single parent. She was inspired for her work for Father's Day, while hearing a sermon on Mother's Day. Sonora had chosen June 19 as a day for the celebration, coinciding with her father's month of birth, June.

The first Father's Day in the USA was celebrated June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Father's Day in the USA has an interesting history. Woodrow Wilson was personally feted by his family on Father's Day, while Calvin Coolidge had recommended it for a public holiday. The National Father's Day Committee was formed in New York in 1926. Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day a celebration to held on the third Sunday of June, and it was made an official holiday by Richard Nixon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Tale of Two Fathers

We all know that divorce isn’t pretty and that the kids often bear the brunt of the drama, so let’s focus on the positive instead. Father’s Day is all about spending quality time with Dad, but divorce can throw a big monkey wrench into any plans for family bonding. Deciding how to spend Father’s Day, especially if Mom has remarried, can open up a difficult can of worms. Don’t lose heart; making Father’s Day a positive celebration for Dad and the kids is possible, it just takes a little finesse.

How pre-planning makes everything easier
One rule that we can’t stress enough is never to make Father’s Day a battle that involves your kids. If the kids have a strong, active relationship with Dad they’ll probably want to spend the big day with him. Talk with your ex well in advance of the holiday and decide on a plan that works for both of you. Even if Dad isn’t scheduled to have the kids on the Father’s Day weekend, it might be better for everyone to ignore the schedule this time and let the kids spend the holiday with him. Just be sure you also plan how the visitation schedule will resume after the holiday to avoid any confusion.

Mom’s new man
If Mom has remarried or Dad isn’t an active part of the kids’ lives, neither parent should pressure the kids to choose between Dad and their step-father. Although Father’s Day is supposed to be all about Dad, in the case of divorced families it’s more important that the kids’ feel comfortable and happy with the arrangements.

Pushing the kids to embrace their relationship with their step-father is a dangerous move. The more you try to direct children towards a certain path, the harder they’ll veer away. Mom can ask the kids if they’d like to do something for their step-father on Father’s Day, but if they seem hesitant or say no, leave it at that. Mom and her new husband should talk about the holiday in advance too. Make sure he’s prepared and doesn’t take it personally if the kids aren’t ready to embrace him as “Dad” on Father’s Day. Remember to keep your kids’ age range in perspective. Adolescents and teens are often more rebellious than their younger siblings and may be more vocal about their opinions. That said, don’t sacrifice your family’s rules of respect and acceptance during this tumultuous time.

The Disappearing Dad
In some cases, Dad just isn’t involved in the kids’ lives. If it looks like Dad won’t be around on Father’s Day, plan activities to help the kids cope. Make sure they understand that even though Dad’s not there, he still loves them. You don’t have to lie, but don’t berate him in front of the kids either. If they ask where Dad is or why they aren’t spending the holiday together, keep it simple and explain that Dad wasn’t able to make it. Ask if they’d like to write him a letter or send him a card to let him know they’re thinking of him, make sure they have the freedom to do so.

After a divorce, it’s normal for the family dynamic to be shaken up for awhile. But don’t lose hope! With time, your family will adjust and sort itself out. Be patient with the kids, your ex and with yourself and you’ll be one step closer to a happy Father’s Day for everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Girly Girl's Guide to Father's Day

If you have trouble coming up with the perfect Father’s Day gift, you’re not alone. Choosing a thoughtful gift for Dad can be fairly easy, but choosing a thoughtful gift that he’ll like is another story.

Mushy yet manly
When we’re buying gifts for Mom, sentimentality is often the guiding force. A delicate ceramic figurine that symbolizes your bond of friendship and trust will mean a lot to her. Try giving Dad the same gift you gave Mom and you’ll get a confused look and a collectible item that sits in its box on a shelf in the garage. That’s not to say that Dads don’t appreciate sentimental gestures, you just have to know how to do it right.

Usually, men and emotions don’t mix. They’ve got their own ways of telling the people around them that they care. A slap on the back, a cold beer, an awkward joke – those are Dad’s ways of saying, “You’re important to me.” So how do you get your communication styles to mesh?

A personal gift is worth a thousand embroidered words
To some women, a fish gutting knife is not a gift that says, “Thanks for being a supportive and caring father.” But to guys who love the great outdoors, this Father’s Day gift is a statement that you really understand your dad.

To show Dad how much you care, you have to show that you get who he is. If he’s into sports, tickets to a game, a jersey from his favorite team or a cushion for stadium bleachers are all wonderful gifts. If he’s into techie gadgets, anything iPod, a laptop accessory or a digital camera memory card will leave him smiling.

The point is to think about the things Dad loves doing best and find gifts that relate. Does he barbecue dinner every night in the summer? Does a fine cigar make his weekend? Does he read The Economist cover to cover every week? Giving Dad a gift that reflects his hobbies and interests shows him that you love the guy he is and think he’s altogether fabulous.

Say it right
The art of the Father’s Day card is a subtle and difficult one to master. The same rules apply as above. If you and your dad don’t exchange “I Love Yous” on a regular basis, an overly sentimental card may leave him uncomfortable and unsure how to respond.

We suggest finding a blank card with a nice design and writing in a few heartfelt words. Thank him for something specific like helping you learn to drive or supplying funds for extracurricular activities in college (shopping should be a sport). You don’t have to go overboard on the mushy thoughts. A few phrases of appreciation for his support and hard work show him that you know how much effort he’s put in to providing for his family.

No two dads are the same. If your dad has a sentimental streak and has kept every one of his #1 Father trophies, you’re on the right track with your gift giving strategy. If he’s not particularly open about his feelings, focus on the things you do know about him. Showing Dad that you love him for who he is can be the best gift he gets.

Worshiping Your Hero on Father's Day

Our fathers: from the time we were small, it seemed like there wasn’t anything they didn’t know or couldn’t do. Forget Spiderman and Superman, you had your own hero sitting right on the couch. As we mature, go through our awkward and rebellious teen phases and get a better understanding of how the world works, our impressions of our fathers change. Could be we think he’s even more amazing than we did when we were kids. Could be we realize that he can’t actually pull quarters out from behind our ears – although we love that he tries. This Father’s Day, bring back some of that childhood adulation by making your dad feel like a real hero.

Making it all about the man
Father’s Day is about the relationship between a father and his children, but it’s too easy for this big day to become more about the kids than about Dad. When you’re planning Father’s Day activities, think first about the things your dad likes to do best, then find ways to make them family-friendly. If he likes fishing, buy rods for the kids and yourself and get him to teach you his secrets. If he’s into history programs, take a trip to the museum with a stop or two at the kids’ section to keep the little ones entertained.

To build a stronger relationship with your dad, make Father’s Day a Father’s Weekend. The Saturday before Father’s Day, find ways to share your own interests with him. While he’s never going to really get what makes a pair of Steve Madden’s so fabulous, he might be open to learning about your favorite painters, going for a walk or jog along your running trail or trying a new kind of cuisine from your favorite restaurant. Sharing your interests with him and learning more about what makes him tick can strengthen your bond.

Great giving
A key part of Father’s Day is giving Dad a gift that shows him how important he is to you. Remember, as with all gift-giving, money doesn’t matter. A thoughtful present that cost only a few dollars is better than dropping a few hundred on a gift that you figured was “good enough”.

It can be hard coming up with gift ideas for Dad, so it’s a good idea to start early. The best strategy for gift giving is to pick up items throughout the year when you see something that would make the perfect present. Stash them in a safe place and keep track of what you’ve bought. If it’s close to Father’s Day and you still don’t have a gift, this strategy isn’t going to be much help!

When you’re choosing a gift for Father’s Day, even if it’s last minute, don’t go generic. Not every dad wants a new barbecue tool set or drill. Think about things you did together when you were a child and look for gifts that can help recreate those happy memories. Or plan a gift that you can enjoy together. Arrange to take cooking lessons or go sky diving. A peaceful trail ride at a local horse ranch or a friendly round of golf at the country club are great ways to reconnect.

No matter how you choose to spend Father’s Day, be sure to take the time to tell your dad how much he means to you. You don’t have to go overboard with the mushiness if it makes you uncomfortable, just put a few heartfelt words in a card and give him a hug. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

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