Poor Dad: The Inequity of Father's Day

Poor dad. He just can’t get any respect. Many of us throw money around on Mother’s Day like a starlet on a shopping spree at Barney’s. But Father’s Day? Fuggetaboutit. He’s lucky to get a piece of paper with “Hallmark” stamped on the back.

In a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans spent $16 billion on Mother’s Day this year, but only plan on spending $9.9 billion on Father’s Day, which falls on June 17. Fathers and Families Executive Director Don Hogan says the discrepancy is just more proof that dads are overworked and underappreciated. “It seems that society places a greater value on mothers than fathers,” he says. “I think it's because there really is a value placed on the role of nurturing and bringing up children and that role has been assigned to mothers. Although you're seeing dads playing a greater and greater role, I don't think it has been reflected in how society views fathers.”

So what exactly does dad get? Americans are expected to spend, on average, $98.34 this year on Father’s Day gifts, while they spent $139.14 on mom. Eighty-seven percent of Americans bought cards for mom, but only 69.9 percent plan on buying cards for dad. Thirty-nine percent bought gift certificates for mom, compared to 30 percent for dad, while 61 percent took mother out to dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day, but only 42.7 percent are taking father out. And I wonder how many dads actually pick up the bill for the meals supposedly in their honor?

NRF Vice President for Public Relations Scott Krugman argues that this gift inequity is not because we love mom more. “I think there's different sets of expectations,” he says. “For both it’s really the thought that counts, but in mom's case the thoughts tend to cost more. Dad's satisfied with a quiet afternoon of barbequing and maybe a ballgame, but with mom I think there is an expectation for more than just a card, which leads to an evening out or jewelry or other gifts.” So hey dad, at least you can be smug by claiming to take the moral high road: “I’m not greedy like your mother.” (But do us both a favor: keep this little thought to yourself. Mom never needs to know.)