As I’ve gotten older, the meaning of Father’s Day for me has continually evolved. With each passing celebration, I become more deeply aware of just how fortunate I have been.
I learned how to be a father from a wise, loving dad. Because he owned a store, he worked almost all the time, but he always made it a point to be there at the special moments — or to create special moments I still recall fondly. When I became a dad myself, I happily immersed myself in my sons’ many activities and delighted in their efforts to make Father’s Day special for me (not realizing, of course, that I considered every day with them to be special). Now that they are fully formed adults, most with families of their own, I get to sit back and enjoy the sublime pleasure of watching them apply whatever it is they learned from me as they live their lives and raise their own children.
If this sounds a bit like a throwback to some syrupy Norman Rockwell painting … well, I suppose it is. As I said, I have been very, very fortunate as a father. However, part of my work here at Sachs Media provides a reminder that not all family situations are quite so ideal, that many parents face entirely different challenges on a daily basis.
Every number tells a story
Four times a week, I work with our Breakthrough Research division under Karen Cyphers to produce infographics on data points involving Florida government, our state, or simply the world around us. These are distributed Monday through Thursday evenings in Last Call, an email newsletter published in conjunction with the website FloridaPolitics.com. This week’s focus on fathers and a recent look at grandparents have pointed to some less-than-ideal situations.
- One of this week’s infographics pointed out the unhappy fact that the portion of American kids who live only with their dads quadrupled from 1960 to 2014. The recent percentage was only 4%, but that’s still a lot of kids living without their moms.
- Conversely, there’s a lot of kids who don’t have a dad around very much, if at all. In Florida, that’s 4 in 10 kids as of 2016, up from 36% in 2007. Florida has the fifth highest portion of children living in single-parent homes.
- On a more progressive note, that same graphic showed that Florida is among the nation’s leaders in stay-at-home dads, with fathers accounting for better than one-fifth of all stay-at-home parents.
- Back in April, one of our infographics highlighted a reality of modern life: Last year, some 354,000 Florida children were being raised by their grandparents.
Now, I love my grandchildren dearly and cherish every moment I get to spend with them. And I have nothing but profound respect for those grandparents who forego the more laid-back pace of the so-called “golden years” in order to take on Parenting Round 2. But my amazing wife (an extraordinary mom and grandma) and I are quite content to see our grandkids raised by their own parents, thank you very much.
“This is the BEST (whatever) I’ve ever been given!”
So now dads everywhere can start wondering what interesting – or, ahem, “interesting” – Father’s Day gifts they’ll receive this weekend. We’ve got some data on that, too.
According to a random sample of Florida voters we conducted last week, there’s a reasonable chance that if you’re a dad, you’ve got some sort of tool coming your way this weekend. Among those Floridians who have purchased gifts for their dads, 75% said they have bought their dad a tool for Father’s Day at least once. Next on the popular gift list were neckties (43%), followed by coffee mugs (38%) and socks (33%). Boys are more likely to give tools, while girls are more likely to surprise Dad with a coffee mug, tie, or socks.
As for me, all I really want for Father’s Day (and always) is to spend time with my kids and their families. But just in case, I’ll make some space in both my toolbox and my sock drawer.