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The Truth Behind Father's Day

In the weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the gap between the celebrations looms large. In the United States, Mother’s Day cards far outsell Father’s Day cards. Many more families host Mother’s Day brunches than Father’s Day barbecues. Many people have “Mom” tattooed on their arms, but far fewer have “Dad” inked on their skin. Everyone understands to some extent the importance of mothers, but unfortunately the significance of a father’s role is less clear. 


The Book of Numbers, Sefer Bamidbar, opens with a census of the adult men eligible for military service among the Jewish people. If you look in this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1 - 4:20) you will notice a striking repetition of the phrase “the houses of their fathers”. Hashem (God) tells Moshe (Moses), “Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by the houses of their fathers…” In all, this week’s Torah portion uses the term “the houses of their fathers” twenty times! Why is it so important to stress that the men included in the census were from father-led households?


The Torah is teaching us a fundamental truth about raising successful children. It is true that children need mothers, but that’s obvious. The more subtle truth is that if one wants to raise people who can be counted as contributing members of society, fathers are also necessary. Children, boys and girls, need fathers in their lives.


Unfortunately, for many reasons, not every child grows up in a father-led household in the traditional sense. There are many heroic single mothers who work valiantly to raise wonderful children without their fathers. Yet, even children who don’t have a biological father raising them still need a father figure in their lives. Uncles, grandparents, teachers, coaches, neighbors, and religious or communal leaders can all serve as male father figures to children who need them and mothers do their children a great service by facilitating connections between their children and men who can serve as mentors and role models. (I share much more about this in Thriving with Teenagers.)


Among families led by a husband and wife team, it’s vitally important that a mother facilitates the relationship between her children and their father. A child naturally develops a connection with its mother, but relationships with fathers must be fostered.  A mother who understands the importance of fatherhood nurtures the relationship between her children and husband instead of minimizing it. She appreciates the masculine strengths, both physical and psychological, that her husband brings to child-raising and she works to develop a strong relationship between her children and their father. In other words, when kids celebrate Father’s Day, it’s not just a testament to a terrific father, but also reflects a great mother.


Developing a united approach to parenting isn’t easy and doesn’t come naturally to most spouses. In our video course, Parenting for Partners, my husband and I share how we have learned to support each other, nurture our children’s relationships with each other, and most importantly how we defined our family’s fundamental values together so we parent as a team… and we guide YOU to do the same in your family. In honor of Father’s Day, I am offering 20% off Parenting As Partners with the code FATHER through June 18. Don’t miss out on the chance to nurture your marriage and strengthen your parenting with this entertaining and informative video course. 

This article is dedicated to the memory of Ilan Fiorentino, 38, murdered by Hamas Terrorists in his Kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7. Ilan’s wife, Sharon, wrote about her Ilan’s relationship with their three daughters and shared, “He loved to go to Maccabi Tel Aviv games with his daughters, he loved to spend time with them, to take them to nursery and pick them up after — to be a dad 200% of the time.”




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Great article. Thank you for educating me. Every day is Father's Day. Best wishes from Spokane, Washington: the official birthplace of Father's Day.

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I agree with you completely. Every day is Mother's and Father's Day!

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