Why Father’s Day is more important than Mother’s Day
For one reason or another, we choose to celebrate Father’s Day in Australia on the first Sunday in September.
In the US, it’s in June. Norway does it in November. Taiwan in August.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter when you happen to celebrate Father’s Day because one sad fact remains the same wherever you are.
For many of us, Father’s Day will be one of the few times this year we actually speak to our dads.
Birthdays. Sometimes. Christmas Day. OK. Father’s Day. Done.
This complete breakdown of communication isn’t a uniquely Australian thing, but it does go to show why in many ways Father’s Day is more important than Mother’s Day.
Communication between fathers and sons has always been a complicated thing, simply because it’s a complicated relationship. Whether in part or full measures there’s an underlying sense of jealousy; of competition; of the son representing a second chance at life; of the son not wanting to represent a second chance at someone else’s life; of great expectations and greater realisations; of apples not falling far from trees; of the fact that we’re just different people forced together by fate.
Any one of these things is enough to cause issues; factor in the inability of men to talk about and address these issues and you have a real problem – a gigantic one.
Our inability to communicate and share our feelings isn’t just killing our ability to form healthy relationships, it’s quite literally killing us. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2015 self-harm or suicide was the 13th highest cause of death in Australia, higher than both breast cancer and skin cancer. It was the leading cause of death in all people 15 to 44 years of age and the second-leading cause for people 45 to 54.
And here’s the kicker: men were three times more likely than women to kill themselves.
It’s simplistic to say that talking more will help stop this. But it wouldn’t hurt if we were able to talk more – or felt like we had someone we could talk to. For many of us, that just simply isn’t our father. We just don’t have that kind of relationship.
That’s why we need a day to remind us to talk. We need Father’s Day and we need it more than we need Mother’s Day.
You see, the funny thing is that many men actually don’t have a problem communicating. We just have a problem communicating with our dads. Most of us communicate just fine with our mums. We don’t need an excuse to talk with our mums. We don’t need a special day. We speak to our mums on a regular basis because it’s just how we were raised.
When we were growing up and wanted to talk about something, we’d go and talk to our mum. She was there. Dad often wasn’t. A lot of our dads just weren’t involved in the emotional side of raising kids and this has continued into adulthood. Whereas mums have an innate ability to pick up on what’s going on in your life just by the way you say “hello” on the phone. Many dads (and sons) have an innate inability to even pick up a phone.
When a friend of mine moved cities as a 20-year-old to start his first big job, he was surprised when he started getting a weekly call from his dad. They usually went something like this:
“Hello son, it’s your dad.”
“Oh hey dad, is mum OK?”
“What? Yes… No, I was just calling to see how you’re going?”
“Oh. Pretty good… how about you?”
“Yeah good… (Long silent pause) I’ll put your mother on.”
Strange and awkward and all-to-familiar but better than nothing, which is what it would’ve been had it been left to either of them. It turns out that the only reason his dad rang was that his mum made him.
But as awkward as the early calls were, it opened up the lines of communication and they now talk regularly without being prompted and when the phone rings now, my friend’s first reaction isn’t “Oh God, something’s happened to mum!”
Mums have always been the go-between. The people that remind dads to ring kids, and kids to ring dads. (It’s probably one of the many reasons why people spend double on Mother’s Day gifts as they do on Father’s Day.)
They’ve been the peacemaker between father and son as young men struggle to navigate their way in the world, and it’s time that we relieved them of some of this burden.
That’s where Father’s Day comes in and why in many ways it’s more important than Mother’s Day. It’s not about bottles of scotch. It’s about reaching out, opening up and actually talking to people who should mean more to us.
It’s also one of the things we need to change most about the way we tackle the job of dad. We need our sons to know that we’re there for each other and that talking isn’t something you only do with your mum. Father’s Day is only one day in the year, but it’s a good place to start.
Happy “Talking to your Dad” Day.