PUBLISHER’S NOTE: It’s not about Dad
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – I’m not a big fan of Father’s Day. Another crass commercial windfall manufactured by the diabolical cabal behind Hallmark cards. It’s one of those annoying holidays where I get bossed around in the name of my happiness, and if I don’t celebrate with the proper amount of zeal a lot of pouting ensues. I don’t like Father’s Day, but I do like fatherhood, and if Father’s Day’s fate is tied to fatherhood’s both may eventually become a novelty as fathers become less valued in our society. It will be like Mastodon Day or Saber-Toothed Tiger Day.
Before I launch into my brief but elegant defense of dad, I would like to proudly share that my daughter has taken to using the patronizing term “traditional” to describe my reactionary parental sternness. I am the rarest of breeds, a secular social conservative. The lack of religious underpinnings for my “family values” often confounds my detractors. When I espouse that it’s a bad idea for couples to live together before marriage, or that children need a mom and a dad that are married, I often have to wait quite a while for the anti-religious ranting to subside, so that I can offer up my purely secular and practical reasons.
It all starts with one important supposition, and that is that the welfare of children should take precedence over the selfishness of adults. If you start there, the rest follows. Even though it may clash with the whims of so-called grown-ups, I think that in general the healthiest and most nurturing environment for raising kids is a two-parent home with a mom and a dad who are married.
Though some feminists may dismiss it as simply a stereotype, they are wrong. It’s a powerful archetype that men and women bring quite different skills and competency to parenting, and these gender differences are obviously complementary. The dad often pushes the kids toward competency and independence. The mom provides the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. It’s a testament to how out of whack our society has become that describing and supporting distinct male and female roles in parenting could be controversial. So, dads, grin and bear Father’s Day while you still can.
Moms and dads (and everyone else) throughout our valley are full of sorrow. The worst thing has happened: a child is dead. Sydney Judge was a pistol of a young woman. Even from the time she was a little girl she literally took life by the horns and wrestled it to the ground. She had a confidence and a swagger that let you know that she was here and would not be ignored. I sang for her elementary school class every week. Since then I’ve only seen her occasionally around town, but knowing that audacious Sydney was part of our community was important. It made me feel good about our town. Jackson Hole has lost a bit of its soul with her passing.