Today is your day. For decades, the third Sunday in June has been Fathers Day in many countries, including Malaysia.
For a number of you, the day will be marked in a familiar yet memorable way. There will be warm wishes aplenty. Adoring wives and thankful children will hand you gifts, and you can look forward to pleasant family meals, perhaps in restaurants fancier than the ones you usually frequent.
The world over, Fathers Day is indeed a day to spend time and money to make dads feel special and appreciated.
According to a survey by Washington DC-based trade association National Retail Federation, Americans were planning to fork out more on shopping and outings for this year’s holiday than ever before.
Although mainly a sign of growing consumer confidence, that finding also suggests that more American fathers will feel exceptionally loved this weekend.
But what about you guys here?
Another recent survey – commissioned by HomeAway, an online marketplace for vacation rentals – paints a significantly different picture for Malaysia as well as for Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.
Of the 930 dads in these five countries who answered the survey questions, half say they usually do not receive anything for Fathers Day.
Equally telling are the key findings in Malaysia. HomeAway says over 20% of those surveyed here do not celebrate Fathers Day, while more than 30% admit that they put in more effort into celebrating Mothers Day than they do with Fathers Day.
This says a lot about how Malaysian fathers generally are. You are often regarded as the strong, silent type who rely more on your deeds than your words.
In a 1966 proclamation on the official recognition of the third Sunday in June as Fathers Day, US President Lyndon B. Johnson said Americans looked to fathers to provide the strength and stability that characterised a successful family.
That was 51 years ago. As the United Nations points out, the tradition of fathers as moral teachers, disciplinarians and breadwinners is evolving.
“In many countries, there is now an increased emphasis on the father’s role as a co-parent, fully engaged in the emotional and practical day-to-day aspects of raising children,” says the UN.
That applies to Malaysia too, but surely we can agree that there is nothing cut and dry about a parent’s job.
What is certain is that no matter where and when, fathers and mothers are the primary caregivers and teachers of their children. All parents want their kids to have a happy and productive life.
And so today is a fine day for you to examine what it means to be a father and to explore the part fathers play in society.
This matters so much in Malaysia right now. The recent deaths of two young men after violence by other youths have raised many questions about the morality and vulnerability of our children.
How do we ensure that they will always treat others with respect and care? And how do we protect them from the wicked acts of those who refuse to recognise right and wrong?
We reckon the answers are more important to you than any Fathers Day gift.