By Denise Turney
The United States Census Bureau’s April 21, 2009 Facts for Features press release reports that there are 64.3 million fathers in the United States. Nearly two million of these men are single parents.
Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. The holiday was founded by a woman named Sonora Dodd. The idea to create a national day to acknowledge fathers came after Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon in church in her hometown of Spokane, Washington.
Dodd’s mother was deceased; it was her father, a farmer and a Civil War veteran, who exercised courage and filled the duo role of mother and father in her life as well as in the lives of her five siblings. Initially, Sonora Dodd – after years of watching her father complete chores once deemed “women’s work” in order to care for his children – started the holiday as a way to honor her father, William Smart. In time, the holiday spread from Spokane throughout the entire country.
Father’s Day Becomes a National Holiday
Father’s Day was first celebrated in Spokane, Washington on June 10, 1910. President Lyndon Johnson signed the first presidential proclamation acknowledging the holiday in 1966. The day was signed into law as a national holiday by President Richard Nixon in 1972.
While millions of men across the United States take a less than active role in the lives of their children, some disappearing from their children’s lives altogether, millions of other men do the work of both mother and father. These men’s voices often go unheard. They work hard on the job whether they are self-employed or work for another business; they work harder at home and this often absent support or understanding from a larger society.
Single Parenthood on the Rise
The April 21, 2009 United States Census Bureau press release also reports that the number of children growing up in a single parent home has consistently increased over the last three decades. Of the 1.8 million single parent fathers, eight percent are raising children under the age of 18, the difficult teen and pre-teen years when children typically require the most emotional, psychological and financial support.
Over half of the single parent fathers are divorced while a quarter of them have never been married. Widowers, the type of single parent Sorona Dodd’s father was, make up the smallest number of single men who are custodial parents. In fact, widowers make up only five percent of the total number of single parent fathers.
Unique Challenges Single Parent Fathers Face
The National Center for Fathering reports that seeking support from other single parent custodial fathers is a leading challenge facing these men. There is a strong likelihood that many single parent fathers, including men who are successful entrepreneurs or self-employed workers, add undue stress and anxiety to their lives because they avoid discussing and sharing fears and concerns they may have regarding disciplining, nurturing and openly communicating with their children with other single parents.
Single fathers must play a key role in the life of their sons. By example and through taking the time to connect with and guide their sons, fathers without partners have tremendous influence when it comes to raising their sons to be responsible young men who treat themselves, their friends and the women in their lives with respect.
More Challenges Single Fathers Face
Other challenges that single parent fathers face include the art of actively listening to and nurturing their children while they provide a spirit of protection and bravery in their home. If these men are self-employed they must also manage employees and do what it takes to increase their small business customer sales. At home, in addition to guiding their sons, single parent fathers must also help their daughters establish healthy self-esteem.
Unlike mothers who raise their children alone, single parent fathers may not know another man in the neighborhood or community who is filling the same role that they are. This can cause single parent fathers to feel isolated. To offset these challenges, organizations like American Coalition for Father’s and Children, The Fatherhood Coalition, Fathers and Families, National Center for Fathering and Father’s Network sponsor programs to help fathers meet the challenges of raising their children alone.
These men are heroes to their children just as William Smart was to his daughter, Sonora Dodd. On Father’s Day and beyond, single parent fathers will have a lasting positive impact on their children, especially if they allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to afford their children the chance to truly get to know them.
Thank you for reading my blog. To learn what happens to Raymond (a man who is raised by a single father), Brenda and the other characters in Love Pour Over Me, hop over to Amazon.com, B&N.com, Ebookit.com, or any other online or offline bookseller and get your copy of Love Pour Over Me today. And again I say – Thank You! Consider Love.
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/013535.html (US Census Bureau Press Release)
http://www.fathers.com (National Center for Fathering)