Father’s Day is a joke.

It is meant to be equal to the highly revered and lionized Mother’s Day. But it’s not. Seriously, how many tie jokes, and joke ties were told and shared this weekend? How many of us actually put some thought into a gift for dad that actually meant something?

I have an excuse. My father has been dead for over 20 years now. But I had the opportunity over the weekend to attend a barbecue in honor of fathers and it was a wonderful event, but in speaking with the dads there, I got the distinct impression that they were not really honored in the way that they deserved.

Fathers are not really considered that important in our society. They are given the obligatory day of honoring, and every judge in Los Angeles County will tell you that they believe fathers are important in a child’s life, but I’m not sure they really believe it.

The single mother raising a child is considered a saint, and the single father is considered “odd” and looked at with a “what’s he really up to? Are those kids safe with him?” face.

Men who want to be fathers, based on the men I know, both as clients and socially, are likely the majority of men. These are dudes who picture themselves teaching their children, boys and girls, how to be functional in the world. Not just how to fish and rebuild an engine, but real life skills like how to carry yourself in an office, and how to treat a waitress in a restaurant.

I field phone calls and e-mails on my www.mensfamilylaw.com website from fathers across the country (and the world from my www.internationalchildcustody.com website) who want to know how to get joint custody of their children. Not primary custody, just joint. They just want to be a part of their children’s lives in a meaningful way. Almost across the board they say they will do “anything for their children.”

Study after study demonstrates how important it is for a father to play a significant and meaningful role in their child’s life. Seventy percent of the men in prison today have had no father figure in their lives other than other lost boys. Gangs are formed by young men trying to find leadership and connection in their lives. Is it any wonder that they go down wrong paths?

In a society that doesn’t demand that men step up for their children beyond money, is it any real surprise that we have problems? Honestly, if the courts demanded that men take physical custody of their children 50 percent of the time, I believe most of the men would gladly do it. Employers would have to change their priorities, and so would mothers.

Mothers would have to shoulder more of the feelings of loss and insignificance that fathers have had to bear.

If fathers were expected to earn less so they could spend more time with their boys and girls teaching them to be better people, and that was backed up with a societal push from the courts and the baby-mamas, well I believe we’d see better children, and that leads to a better society.

But we’re not seeing that. We see that fathers are pushed out of a child’s life and then expected to work a full-time job, which prevents him from having enough time for his children. But that’s OK because we don’t expect mom to work a full-time job because she has to “raise the children.” For the father, if he cannot support his child with money he’s considered a deadbeat dad and has little of value to offer his child, and that’s why we left the kid with mom in the first place.

At the Father’s Day barbecue this weekend, I saw single fathers who are raising their children, or have raised their children. There were three amazing men who are raising their children without the mother involved. The mothers were all crazy drug addict alcoholics with extensive criminal backgrounds. But that’s what it usually takes before a man can be considered the better parent. That’s sad.

I said Father’s Day is a joke, not because I don’t believe fathers should be honored, but because I don’t’ believe it goes far enough. Fathers are crucial to the development of boys into men and girls into women who are respected and are respectful.

By undervaluing fathers, we are doing a disservice to all of us.

David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or (310) 664-9969.

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