Hansen: Let's ban Father's Day

Some dads are built to win "father of the year" contests. They volunteer for Boy Scouts, drive an Expedition and somehow find time to work out. I am not that man.

I am more likely to lose my son at Costco.

It's not that I am irresponsible; it's just that, well, I have three sons first of all, so things are often out of control.

Put it this way: Holidays are not supposed to be scary, but I am always afraid of Father's Day.

I just don't like it. It's intimidating and completely self-flagellating.

If I were honest, I think it's because I never feel entirely satisfied with how I'm doing. I'm always wishing that I could take something back, but we don't get mulligans. All we can do is say we're sorry — and I do, regularly.

I didn't have a real father, so I'm learning as I go along. Maybe I'm overcompensating. Friends tell me I'm a great dad, but I don't think anyone is always comfortable or happy with their performance. Most dads, I'm convinced, consider themselves inexplicable role models.

We try and that's all we can do.

The issues now are murky and confounding. More than ever, I find myself saying "I don't know, Google it."

The questions are harder, infinitely harder.

My 10-year-old has math that seems more difficult than my college calculus. I seriously dug out one of my college texts to solve a fifth grade math problem this year.

I'm a "writer" yet can't answer middle school English problems. I majored in journalism and minored in English but sometimes have problems remembering the rules. Maybe I break too many now out of convenience?

These feelings of inadequacy have settled into a gnawing, perpetual loop of fatherly anguish and remorse.

The stats back me up. Fathers basically suck at being fathers.

"Considerable evidence has emerged indicating that adolescents who live in mother-only households are less likely to engage in deviant behavior and drug use than children from father-only households," according to the National Institutes of Health. This group, by the way, is not some fancy sounding Internet front. This is official government research published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Furthermore, rather than just own up to our own failings, fathers keep quiet.

"Compared to single mothers, single fathers have been shown to communicate less often with their children," the report said.

Fathers don't show as much affection. We don't display emotion. We don't cry, except perhaps lately over the Lakers.

Again, the stats do not lie.

One study said "98% of mothers and 90% of fathers hugged their children ages 0 to 2 years of age daily, compared to only 74% of mothers and 50% of fathers who hugged their children ages 10 to 12 years of age daily."

After 12, it's hard to pat them on the back.

I remember two years ago I was concerned enough about this lack of affection that I wrote to "Dear Abby," who published my letter. I basically asked, how can I show affection to my boys who are quickly turning into men? Her response, in so many words, was "good luck."

"Your older boys may be less affectionate because they're a teenager and a pre-teen and concerned that kissing you would appear unmasculine or childish," she wrote. "It's possible that when they're older they will realize the importance of expressing warm emotions as you did."

While there is plenty of testosterone in our household, the estrogen is clearly manufactured. They get it when they're with their mom, but does a household need both full-time? Does my taking them to the Pageant of the Masters count for three estrogen pills?

These are the types of questions I ponder every Father's Day. Am I a proper Mr. Mom? Should I start crying discreetly when, say, the Dodgers lose? On Saturday mornings, are scrambled eggs enough or do I have to make an omelet with sliced orange wedges?

Nothing is ever enough. We muddle. We frantically jump from one Little League game to another, hoping we don't have snack duty, and if we do, we buy terrible food from the snack bar. We simply react, praying that the disaster is manageable.

Father's Day starts with an "F" for a reason. Maybe someday we can look back and admit we enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, I love being a father; I just could do without the fanfare.

So I vote for combining Father's Day and Mother's Day and just call it "Family Day."

Less pressure, less expectation, more happy fathers.

DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at davidhansen@yahoo.com.

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