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We Love Our Dads, But Not as Much as Our Moms

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Lionsgate Melissa Moseley/ AP Photo

Sunday, June 19th is Father’s Day in the United States. Father’s Day became an American national holiday in 1972 yet traces its roots back to July 5, 1908 at a church in West Virginia which, according to the history, sponsored the nation’s first program specifically honoring fathers. The church dedicated its Sunday sermon to the memory of 362 men who had died the previous December in an explosion at the Fairmont Coal Company’s mines in Monongah, West Virginia. Others say it began in 1910 in Seattle, Washington as the West Virginia church celebration of fathers was a one-time event. 


Fathers come in all ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.  There are fathers worth billions of dollars and fathers who would be challenged to rub two dimes together.  What is most important on this day of great honor is we are paying tribute to a person who it is safe to say we would not be who we are today without.  It is also important to note that being a father is much more than a biological act and all of us wish for that father who is a great dad.  Perhaps the day should be renamed “Dad’s Day” as we know so many ‘wonderful fathers’ who are not biological fathers but are among the best dads we know.  It is not a cliché to say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad.  Roughly 75 million fathers will be honored on June 19th.  Most will be Americans, yet millions will not.  Sons and daughters will honor fathers around the United States and globally.  Phone calls will be made to all 50 states and globally to places ranging from Nova Scotia, Canada, Frankfurt, Germany and Paris, France to Tokyo, Japan, Sydney, Australia and Sao Paulo, Brazil.  UPS, FEDEX, U.S. Postal Service and others will make certain gifts of love are there for dad, if they cannot be.

We estimate Americans will spend roughly $23 billion honoring their fathers this Father’s Day, based on 2020 Census Bureau data (up from $6.6 billion in 2009), which means on average Americans will spend $306.67 per father.  Money will be spent on everything from golf clubs, whiskey, and ties, to dinners, lawn mowers and televisions.  What will be uniquely different from the first official Father’s Day in 1972 is consumers will use one or more of the following venues to shop for their father’s gift(s), many of which did not exist back then.  According to a recent National Retail Federation survey, 39% of consumers will shop for their fathers at traditional department stores, 34% will shop online, 24% will shop at discount stores, 23% will shop at specialty stores and 2% will still use traditional catalogs.  In addition to the great joy of honoring our fathers, most Americans are surprised to find out how important the economic impact of Father’s Day in America is, as well as the massive size of the U.S. economy which many take for granted.  If the $23 billion we project will be spent on Father’s Day in the United States were compared to GDP, Father’s Day if it were a country, would be the 117th largest economy in the world, slightly smaller than the Caribbean Island country of Trinidad and Tobago.  Or imagine, all U.S. Father’s Day sales revenue was compiled under the name of a company called Father’s Day Incorporated. Father’s Day Incorporated would be the 157th largest corporation on the 2022 Fortune 500 List of the largest corporations in America by sales…slightly smaller than McDonald's ranked 152. 


On Father’s Day especially, it is important to pay homage to the person who helped give you life, and equally important that fathers do their best to be dads. Father’s Day should be a time of celebration or a time for healing, a time for forgiveness, a time for growth and renewed relationships.  In the many things you do over the upcoming Father’s Day weekend, be certain to give your father a hug and tell him you love him, and if you cannot do that in person, call or Facetime him, as Dad deserves much more than an email, text or tweet on this very special day.   Recognize the importance your father has made in your life even if it means swallowing your pride.  As invincible as our fathers appear to be when we are young, unfortunately they do grow old and will not be with us forever.  We are fortunate to live in incredible times where capitalism and technology allows us to communicate with our fathers in ways our great-grandfathers could only dream of.  Use technology and make Father’s Day a 7-day-a-week, 365 day a year celebration. Call your father whenever you can, send a text with a special photo or email with an ‘I Love You’ a few times a week; Zoom your dad often as well as buying a good old fashion card, envelope, and a stamp to send a greeting to your Pops while adding to the bottom line of the U.S. Postal Service. Americans clearly need to put more time, effort and energy into celebrating fathers and Father’s Day.  Why, you ask? It is going to take decades, if ever, to catch up with the $356.76 we spent on May 8th celebrating Mother’s Day!


Dr. Timothy G. Nash is director of the McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Northwood University.

Professor James Hop is chair of the Entrepreneurship program and a McNair Center Scholar at Northwood University.

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