The third Sunday of every June is set aside for a very special observance: Father’s Day. It’s the day when fathers are acknowledged, appreciated and perhaps even treated to some gifts or a nice dinner. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day has been an American tradition for over a century. For some reason, it took far longer for Father’s Day to become a legally recognized holiday.
The first “official” Father’s Day occurred in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. It was the brainchild of a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, who decided that her father should have a special day in the same way mothers were paid tribute to on Mother’s Day. At Dodd’s suggestion, the city arranged festivities. The first Father’s Day included a church service wherein willing attendees wore roses in homage to their fathers.
Time passed and in 1914, Mother’s Day was officially recognized by Congress. However, the road to recognition for Father’s Day proved more circuitous. One small step was taken in 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge is reported to have voiced his support for the observance. It is also said that in 1938, a trade organization that was created by some New York City men’s clothing retailers gave Father’s Day a major endorsement.
The first presidential proclamation that honored fathers was not issued until 1966, by President Lyndon Johnson. Finally, it was President Richard Nixon, who, in 1972, signed the holiday into law.
So why should it have taken fathers so long to get the same treatment that mothers received way back in 1914? It’s hard to say, but the situation is not unlike the reticence that has been shown in the legal system when it comes to acknowledging the importance of father-child relationships when child custody decisions are being rendered.
Fortunately, just as Father’s Day finally got its due, so too are fathers finding the courts more open to giving them parenting rights when child custody agreements are being created. However, fathers can still face challenges when seeking equitable custody terms. A father can also seek the services of an experienced family law attorney to help make sure he gets his fair share of days to spend with his children.