Father's Day blues caused by the insensitive media

June 18, 1999|By Joseph Sindoni

I AWOKE with childlike excitement last Father's Day, knowing that it was probably the only day my kids would express gratitude without wanting something in return. Somehow this one day makes a year's worth of trials and tribulations seem like a good deal.

I felt an inner smile as the radio disc jockey said, "Let's send this out to all the dads this morning." Then he played the late Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle," a song about a father's biggest failure in life: spending so much time wrapped up in his life that he neglects his child. Now, his adult son has no time for him. A sad, depressing song -- not much of a tribute.

Oh well, I thought, time to read the Sunday paper. Sitting with my cup of coffee and bagel, I looked forward to reading a Father's Day story. But there wasn't a single positive story about fathers.

On Mother's Day, the streets are lined with flowers for sale. Love songs play on the radio and television shows us how special mothers are. When you pick up the morning paper, the front page is bound to have a heartwarming mom story.

I relate to the Mother's Day stories because I am a single father. Such articles help me understand the emotional link between mothers and children and the instinctive qualities of nurturing and loving that are sometimes uncomfortable for me. I see the profound influence a mother has and realize how much my children are missing a mother in their lives.

A rollin' stone

I turned the radio on again. A station was having a "Fathers and Rockers" weekend and as a promotional theme it played the Temptations' "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone." Not exactly a positive father figure. On television, a news program showed the societal problems caused by the lack of fathers in the lives of children. So I flicked to another station, where the problem of "deadbeat dads" was being discussed.

On this one day, can't fathers get some crumbs thrown our way? A little praise for the good we do? Why not provide a heartwarming story about fatherhood that would touch a dad's emotions and fill a heart that's often running on empty? I know it's too much to ask for the streets to be lined with Craftsman tools, but it could be a day of inspiration. A day to encourage us to be the best fathers this world has ever seen.

Society is going through a transition in its thinking about men. The traditional male role, which helped bring civilization to this point, is seen not only as unnecessary, but also unwelcome in many camps.

Evolving fatherhood

In just one generation, we've reinvented fatherhood by embracing the idea of fathers being more involved in their children's lives. Yet fathers are constantly being beat up in the media, devalued in divorce proceedings and considered by some people as nonessential in creating and raising children.

This Father's Day the media will not show the dad who wears worn-out shoes so his kids can have new ones, or the one suffering through his child's first heartbreak, unable to fix it. The Sunday paper won't tell of the father who works and sleeps and works, without complaining, to provide for the children he sees part-time, but loves full-time. There will be no story about the father who loves, nurtures and lies awake at night when his children are out late.

But Father's Day is a day for me to feel good about my role as a father.

I know my children will give me a card and it will say something that lets me know I'm important, that I matter, and I guess that's all that really matters. I guess . . .

Joseph Sindoni, father of two sons, is a single dad who lives in Springfield, Pa. He is writing a book of essays about the perils of parenting. His e-mail address: mrmom@icdc.com.

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