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Make time to thank your dad

Father’s Day is celebrated on June 18 this year. To me, Father’s Day always seemed a faint echo of Mother’s Day that we celebrated last month. But where and how did this holiday begin as I don’t remember celebrating it when I was young?

According to www.timeanddate.com, “The idea of a special day to honor fathers and celebrate fatherhood was introduced from the United States. There, a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd was inspired by the American Mother’s Day celebrations to plan a day to honor fathers. In the USA, Father’s Day has been celebrated in June since 1910.”

My Dad had a difficult life as he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following five years being held as a prisoner of war in Poland during World War II.

Despite this, he held a regular job all through his working life, kept a roof over our heads and meals on the table. As kids, we didn’t understand his sudden outbursts of anger and extreme emotional reserve, but as we got older it became easier to forgive.

When my Dad was dying from cancer in his 60s I wrote him a letter that I gave to him, thanking him for all the things he did for us, including selling his tools one year to buy us Christmas presents.

I wrote the letter as I didn’t know if I would get home to England in time before he died. But he hung on until I got home and we were able to have a precious last few days together. We talked more closely in those few days than we ever had.

Dads come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. In this era of blended families, a dad can be a stepdad, an adopted dad, a foster dad, a legal guardian or even a dad who is really a granddad but has taken on that family role. The dad role is not an easy job but is a vital one.

We hear a lot about absentee dads, fathers who for whatever reason do not fulfill that role in the traditional way. In writing about the “father absence crisis in America, the National Fatherhood Alliance reports, “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of three — live without their biological dad in the home.”

According to the reports, children without fathers in the home are four times more likely to live in poverty, more likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems, have twice the risk of infant mortality and are more likely to commit crime and go to prison as a teen.

Fatherless children also face more abuse and neglect. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as well as a multitude of other social problems.

So, if you have a dad who was there through your childhood and teens, say thank you this weekend, regardless of how he became your dad.

Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at catalyst78@cox.net.

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