“On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world
So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do…”
– John Mayer, “Daughters”
Today marks Father’s Day in Austria but you are unlikely to see too many Austrian Papas during the Pfingsten holiday tomorrow bending over their shiny new envy-inducing deluxe gargantuan grills. Dads here will be lucky to get some special breakfast and a “Happy Father’s Day” let alone some cool socks and a cooler full of ice-cold Ottakringers. Father’s Day in Austria has been celebrated since 1956. However, as an Austrian children’s website states (http://kiwithek.kidsweb.at/index.php/Vatertag), unfortunately it is still not considered particularly significant. Maybe it’s because, for many Austrian Dads, every day is still father’s day evidenced best at 19:30 each evening. While Mom slaves away in the kitchen over the Frittatensuppe, dad props his feet up on the Hocker, flips on ORF 2, and eyes page three of his Krone until he is summoned to the dinner table. But if the amount of guys opting to take their share of maternity leave in this country is any indication, Archie Bunker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archie_Bunker) will soon be giving up his armchair in Austria too. The kiwi site thinks that Dads deserve to be honored in Austria, just like in the US, and I couldn’t agree more.
My dad taught me how to throw a baseball, shoot an arrow and change a tire. Together we hunted night crawlers, mowed the grass and attended Indian
Princess meetings. He read me books, taught me chess and made me a lifelong NPR listener. When I said I wanted to move to Europe after college, rather than talk me out of it, he said, “Well, then you better learn how to drive a stick,” and proceeded to undertake the dangerous mission of training me to do so. My dad was and remains the ultimate world’s best dad. He made me feel like I was the most beautiful, smartest, funniest, most capable person in the universe to him and set me out into the world as someone who had learned from home what it meant to care about others and approach life, open-minded and open-hearted.
THANK YOU, DAD! And Happy Father’s Day! (a week early where you are, and today where I am – though you deserve to be celebrated every day)
And if you’re a dad, be sure to be a great one. You can make a difference that will last a lifetime. Just ask your daughters.
Did you know?
According to the “Men on Maternity leave” website and the page “Real Men go on Maternity leave” (http://www.maennerinkarenz.at/), two of three men in Austria want to go on maternity leave and share in the responsibility for raising their kids. A typical arrangement nowadays might include the mom taking 12 months maternity leave and the dad two. But the parents can choose how to split their maternity leave time here and they may even split half -half or dads will take the major chunk.
According to the Austrian magazine “News” (http://www.news.at/a/vatertag-alleinerzieher-oesterreich-statistik ), 9000 Austrian men are raising their kids on their own.
According to the Austrian newspaper “Kleine Zeitung” (http://www.kleinezeitung.at/nachrichten/chronik/3648893/suesses-hochprozentiges-fuer-den-vati.story), a bit more than half of all Austrians celebrate Father’s Day but only a third actually think it is significant. About every 4th Dad gets a present and it is usually something sweet or something with an alcohol content.