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Zum Vatertag

In den USA ist am kommenden Sonntag (20.6) Vatertag. Präsident Lyndon Johnson hatte 1966 den dritten Sonntag im Juni als Vatertag deklariert. Präsident Richard Nixon machte 1972 diese Anordnung permanent. (Der Muttertag wurde schon 1914 von Präsident Wilson als nationaler Feiertag bestimmt und auf den zweiten Sonntag im Mai festgelegt.)

Frage: Wie und von wem wurden entsprechende Tage in Deutschland eingeführt?

Natürlich ist der Vatertag auch in den USA ein wirtschaftlicher Faktor. Aber anders als bei uns wird auch über die Rolle von Vätern in Familie und Gesellschaft intensiv nachgedacht, angefangen von Aufrufen der höchsten politischen Repräsentanten des Landes. Wir bringen dazu einen weit verbreiteten Aufsatz des amerikanischen Vizepräsidenten Al Gore aus 1995. Er hat sich neben nicht wenigen Governeuren selbst aktiv an Vaterschaftsveranstaltungen beteiligt und hat u.a. zu einer "Father to Father" Iniative aufgerufen dessen Ehrenvorsitzender er jetzt ist. Wir haben auch schon gelegentlich über verschiedene staatliche Programme in den USA berichtet mit denen die Rolle von Vätern gefördert wird um der besorgniserregenden Vaterlosigkeit zu begegnen. Eingeleitet haben wir unsere Webseite mit einem humorvollen aber sehr treffenden Zitat des amerikanischen Dichters Mark Twain (als Trost für alle Väter -und Mütter von Teenagern) und einem Zitat von Sigmund Freud.

Bringing Up Father

When I was a boy of 14,
my father was so ignorant
I could hardly stand to have
the old man around.

But when I got to be 21,
I was astonished at how much
the old man had learned in seven years.
 Mark Twain
I cannot think of any need in childhood
as strong as the need for a father's protection."
 Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

A Day to Remember Dad

The Dream for a World of Loved and Loving Fathers

Printed June 18, 1995, in over 80 newspapers across the United States

Children Youth and Family Consortium Electronic Clearinghouse.
Permission is granted to create and distribute copies of this document for noncommercial purposes provided that the author and CYFCEC receive acknowledgment and this notice is included. Phone (612) 626-1212 EMAIL

I am blessed. I have wonderful childhood memories of experiences with my father, and he and I continue to share in each others lives.

As a child, I remember seeing my fathers strong hands guiding the birth of a calf, the sound of his voice auctioning a steer, and his no-nonsense expectations that my sister and I would behave according to the rules he and my mother had clearly established. In the past two weeks, I have watched him beaming with unabashed pride at the graduations of two of our daughters, as he has at every major milestone in his grandchildren's lives.

Today across the country people are remembering fathers who are always there, fathers who left without a backward glance, fathers who died too soon, fathers who can express their love and fathers who cannot, fathers who make us feel we can do anything, and fathers who notice only our faults. We remember fathers who instill fear with every word, and fathers who fill our lives with love and the special confidence that comes with their own acceptance and approval, and fathers who reached far beyond their own homes to surround many children with love.

As I recall my memories, I wonder about the memories fathers are creating for their children today - what will my children remember from their childhood? What will their understanding of fatherhood be? The answers to these questions lie in questions we as fathers must ask ourselves:

- How much of my life have I shared with my children? And how much of my time have I made available only for my children?
- Do my children know where I came from? Have I given them a sense of my history and theirs?
- Do my children know what I do every day? Have they ever gone to work with me?
- When was the last time I played a game with my children? The last time I helped them do their homework?
- Do I know the names of their teachers and their friends? Do their teachers and friends know me?
- Do they know how much I love their mother? Do they see that she and I are partners as parents?
- Even if I am separated or divorced, do they see me treat their mother with respect?

There are many children who have no memories of their fathers. Forty percent of Americas children will remember living in a home without their biological father. There are many who will remember a courageous single mother, and others who will not remember any adults who gave them the love they crave.

We are understandably outraged by the fathers who turn their backs on the children they have helped to create and leave them destitute. But even those who provide financial support frequently - intentionally or not - abandon their children emotionally.

Many devoted fathers who want to provide good lives for their children are stretched beyond the limits of exhaustion by the demands of two or more jobs, or long hours and longer commutes. Many fathers I talk to are frustrated by the lack of time that they have to spend with their children, and confess that when they do get home, they may just collapse in front of the TV, too tired to hear about the fight on the playground, or help with the homework, or to read the bedtime story. A recent poll found that 72 percent of falthers would like to spend more time with their children.

We must find ways to change our culture so that men are encouraged to spend more time with their children, and we must support men in their resolve to be more involved in their childrens lives.

Our childrens understanding of fatherhood also depends on questions that communities should be asking today and every day:

- Do our hospitals and birthing centers prepare fathers to be involved in the care of their newborns? Or do they just focus on maternal and child health?
- Do our child care centers and schools involve men in teaching roles and invite fathers to participate in their children's education? Or does the teacher still give "Dad a note to take home to Mom"?
- Do our employers value men who are actively involved fathers, or penalize them for taking time off for the school play?
Positive answers to these questions provide only some of the responsibility that communities must share. What about those men who are faced with the exasperating, exhilarating, frustrating and joyous experience of fatherhood and may not have memories, a living father, a life experience, or a group of friends that can carry them through?

Last summer in Nashville, I moderated the third in a series of family policy conferences, "The Role of Men in Childrens Lives." It brought together more than 800 fathers, researchers, practioners, and those who make family policies at every level. Again and again we were reminded to reach out and reclaim missing fathers and support those who were struggling with their role.

I am convinced that there is nothing more essential to a successful father than the active support of other fathers. I challenged the audience in Nashville to think about creating a national "Father to Father" initiative. A group of leaders in the field took up the challenge, and after a year of work we announced this week the launching of "Father to Father," a non-governmental initiative to unite men with one another in the task of becoming better fathers.

In Minnesota for example, businesses, churches, 4-H groups, parenting programs, school districts and community groups are joining forces to make "Father to Father" a reality. Others are following their lead, and a national resource center is being created to lend support to these efforts.

As a part of the "Father to Father" initiative announced this week, we also met with the heads of major civic and service organizations; leaders in business, education, and religion; and representatives from the Red Cross, Boy and Girl Scouts, Big and Little Sisters, fraternal organizations, foundations and the media. They were universally eager to join the effort and brought valuable suggestions and fresh ideas to the table. Their skills and determination will enable them to mobilize a vast array of resource and concerned citizens on behalf of American fathers.

On this fathers day, I urge all fathers and groups who care about fathers to join in his effort. Reach out to fathers who may need a little guidance or if you need some help being a better father don't be afraid to ask a father you admire for support. Together we can create the kinds of experiences and support for fathers that make lasting memories. Together we can work to reconnect men and children. Our nations fathers are depending on us.

Initiativen in den USA zu Familie und Vaterschaft

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