Thoughts on Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day.

In our family, I resolutely discourage celebration of Father’s Day, seeing it as a purely marketing gimmick to get people to buy useless stuff. I have said this so strongly that my children know not to give me a gift or even send a card and that it is perfectly fine by me if they forget it altogether and not even wish me on the phone, since I too usually forget it until I read the newspaper comics for that day, since some cartoonists use it as a theme, often in sappy ways.

But I know that the advertising people have been so successful in their campaign to make this day seem significant that some people get quite upset if their children forget to acknowledge it. I suspect that Mother’s Day carries with it even more emotional freight.

This 2002 column by humorist Dave Barry captures perfectly my feelings on this topic.


  1. sheila says

    There’s always non-commercial gifts. Like washing the car, or letting him chose the TV channels all night.

  2. says

    When I was younger I used to waste money on pointless stuff that my dad didn’t want or need. Mostly we try to do personal things, like breakfast in bed, which is good if you still live with your parents/children. And things like getting the family together for a meal, or buying something that we know our father really wants/needs.

  3. SusanP says

    These types of “holidays” are particularly difficult for those of us who have lost a parent.

  4. Elly says

    Our family doesn’t pay much attention to Mother’s or Father’s Day anymore. We used to track the dates, so we could render the expected homage to my in-laws (my parents didn’t care), but now that they’re gone, the dates are pretty irrelevant. We only note them so we know when to avoid eating out.

    We’re not anti-holiday, but celebrating Mother’s or Father’s day never really felt right to me. I think, in part, this was due to a) a reaction against the prim, stifling, loving-but-not-nurturing relationship my husband had with his parents; and b) the fact that we don’t really self-identify as “Mom” and “Dad” within our own nuclear family. We’re very close to our kids (who are living at home while they attend college), but our family structure was never particularly hierarchical, and we never saw parenting as the be-all/end-all of our lives.

  5. stonyground says

    My daughter bought me a funny card and a book, both were very much appreciated. My father died a couple of years ago so I no longer buy a card or a present but I think about him on father’s day and remember him. I think that the idea that mother’s and father’s day were invented by greetings card companies to increase their market may have some truth in it, but I think that the idea of having a day to appreciate your parents is a good one. If you don’t want to pander to the commercial side of it then don’t. There are plenty of acts of kindness that you can do that cost nothing.

  6. says

    Whenever someone looks at me with incredulity when I state I don’t celebrate Mother or Father’s Day I always hit them with this:

    “If you need a special day to be nice to your parents and tell them how much you love them, you’re doing it wrong.”

    Its also why I don’t like Valentines Day either.

    You simply shouldn’t need a special day to be nice to the people in your life or tell them how much you love them. Take your Parents or spouse out to their favourite restaurant (or send a gift card if you live far away), or do something special for them just because you know they’d like it. And always, always, let them know how much you love them – every day is Mother’s / Father’s / Valentine’s Day.

  7. Ken Baker says

    As a father, I think the best Father’s Day gift would be for everyone in my family to spend none of my money. Or, if you insist on spending money, get something ingestible. In my mind there could be no better Father’s Day gift than a well-made Chicago-style hotdog.

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