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Father's Day at 100

OPB | June 13, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:42 p.m.

What does fatherhood mean in your family?

One hundred years ago Father’s Day began in the United States in a church in Fairmont, West Virginia. The idea for it came from a local parishioner after a deadly mine explosion killed 361 men — most of whom were fathers. (It also happened to be a good response to the new May celebration — Mother’s Day.)

Now this Hallmark holiday is celebrated around much of the world, from Thailand to Turkey. And in the intervening years the role of fathers has changed — in some cases dramatically. Gone are the days of Father Knows Best when a tired man in a tie would come home to a kiss, a martini, and kids playing quietly in the other room.

Now most dads have a very active role in parenting: new research shows that they are actually doing twice as much childcare as they were just 30 years ago.

Today many dads face the realities of both parents working and balancing daycare and soccer schedules, creating an altogether more complicated picture of fatherhood than the distant martini-drinker of legend. Some fathers are choosing to stay home full-time to take care of the kids. Others can hardly get away from work to see their kids before they go to bed. And with the divorce rate at 40 percent, many have to deal with only seeing their little ones every other weekend, along with a holiday or two. These are stark differences from 30 years ago — let alone from that first Father’s Day in 1908.

What does fatherhood mean to you? If you’re a dad, what role do you have in your children’s upbringing? Is it what you hoped for when you thought of becoming a father — or is the reality different from your dreams?

Are you a mom? How do you share parenting with your spouse? Is the division of duties fair or are you still the one expected to change all the dirty diapers?

And what memories do you have of your dad? What role did he have in your upbringing? What does D-A-D mean to you?

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