Lewis W. Diuguid: Father’s Day less stressful than Mother’s Day for people giving gifts

The mad rush this weekend for Father's Day cards and gifts will be a lot more sedate than the panic that precedes Mother's Day even though both occasions are supposed to be just as meaningful to people honoring their parents.

Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., came up with Father's Day while she listened to a sermon on Mother's Day in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, who was a widowed Civil War veteran, raising six children on a farm.

Spokane's mayor proclaimed June 17, 1910, the first Father's Day because it was the month of Smart's birth. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers didn't occur for more than 50 years. In 1966, President Lyndon B. 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. Like Mother's Day, it has been an event for advertising and sales ever since.

The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that in 2008 (the most recent year for which data were available), the United States had 70.1 million fathers. Data from 2015 shows that 24.9 million men were fathers in married couple families with children younger than age 18.


Of that number, 21 percent were raising three or more children under 18 in married-couple households, and 3 percent were living in someone else's home with their families.

The U.S. in 2015 had 1.9 million single fathers, and 16 percent of the single parents were men. About 45 percent are divorced, 33 percent were never married, 17 percent were separated and 6 percent were widowed. About 47 percent of fathers had an annual family income of $50,000 or more.

The U.S. in 2015 had 199,000 stay-at-home dads with children under age 15. Those dads cared for about 368,000 children and remained out of the labor force. In 2013, 29 percent of the children were preschoolers cared for by dads while the moms were working outside the home.

Custodial fathers in 2013 received a total of $3.1 billion, although they were due $4.2 billion. In comparison, custodial mothers received $19.4 billion of the $28.7 billion in child support that was due.

In the area of gift-giving, in 2012 there are 22,508 clothing stores, department stores, warehouse clubs and supercenters from which people could buy gifts for fathers. For do-it-yourself dads, the U.S. in 2014 had 15,331 hardware stores for tools such as hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers for Father's Day gifts.

To relax, a lot of men go outdoors. But they need the right gear to enjoy their favorite pastime or hobby. For Father's Day gifts, people turn to the 21,830 sporting goods stores in 2014 for golf equipment, fishing gear and other items.

For that funky Father's Day shirt, suit, slacks or tie, the U.S. in 2014 had 7,100 men's clothing stores from which consumers could choose.

Whatever the gift might be, dads are bound to love it. Like I said, there's a lot less stress involved with Father's Day.


Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Kansas City Star's Editorial Board.

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