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Father's Day

Fault on Father's Day

He volunteered at his church, which was in the heart of a very poor neighborhood, so he was always helping poor kids, ...


I grew up with a very athletic Dad who was all-city in Minneapolis high school hockey before he joined the US Navy at age 17 to fight in WWII (Pacific theater, Philippines). I was born after he got home and married my Mom. When I was little my Dad played semi-pro hockey while he was trying to rise from the loading docks to be a junior salesman for a large printing company. When he came home from a rough hockey game one night with a black eye, broken nose, and stitches, my Mom laid down the law. No more of this semi-pro hockey. The pay was lousy, the players were pugnacious, the travel was unacceptable, and while it might impress the guys on the loading dock, my Dad could not show up as a salesman with a black eye and bandages.

So my Dad switched to coaching hockey and playing public parks tennis. Of course, in his role as Coach Dad he would take me to the best public park rinks in winter, the ones where the current Minnesota Gopher hockey players would skate alongside kids and inexperienced “sandlot” beginner adults. Sure enough, my Dad was always the best player (in my young opinion) and would make sure that once he stole the puck from another guy he would bring it through any and all opponents to virtually place it on my stick and give me a chance to get into the game. 

Then on one winter Saturday a novice accidentally stuck his hockey stick through my Dad’s lip. Now, in my 70s, more than six decades ago, I can still clearly see in my mind’s-eye him driving with one hand, holding a cloth on his bleeding lip. He found a doc, got stitched up again, and Mom was not happy, but she let it slide since he was being Coach Dad, not playing Golden Gloves on ice with the other rowdies. He was a proud public parks tennis player, scrappy and untrained. “We are going to clean the clocks of those country club guys,” he would tell me. He often did.

There are many faults in tennis. There is a default, if you don’t show for your match. There is a double fault if you miss both serves. And there is foot fault if you step over the serving line before your racket strikes the ball. 

My Dad never defaulted on any debt, even though there were some poor years, especially after he went back to the university on his GI Bill education benefits. He scuffled, but took care of everyone. 

Many Dads Just Do It. They don’t make the headlines. They don’t cheat on their obligations. They don’t grandstand against the vulnerable. They just work hard. 

I became a single Dad years ago and on Mother’s Day my Dad would send me a card, saying that I was trying to do both, so Happy Mother’s Day. 

On this Father’s Day I want to honor both Fathers and single Moms. We see you, no matter how much you feel unseen in the background. You are not the ones who default, double fault, or foot fault. 

Working Dads, working Moms, thank you. I am so much more grateful for you than for the ones who trumpet hate and exclusion, who tell Moms and Dads what their children can read or not read. If some kids grow up despising gay people or people of color, it’s the fault of a poor subculture of Dictator Dads and heartless Moms who presume to tell us all that to be kind and have empathy is woke and wrong.

I guess my Dad was woke before woke was a thing. From my earliest questions about politics: “Dad, are you a Republican or Democrat?” he would always say, “Neither, son, I’ve never been a joiner.” But even as proud Navy veteran he was an activist against the next war, in Vietnam, a war waged by Democrat LBJ and Republican Nixon. He helped me get a Conscientious Objector status--I worked in a locked-down mental health unit instead of heading to Vietnam to kill or die. Later, when I became a nonviolent resister to nuclear weapons and got arrested he would say to others, “Hmmm...I think I over-trained him.”

He volunteered at his church, which was in the heart of a very poor neighborhood, so he was always helping poor kids, which made me even more proud of him. He had gay friends and joined them in saying, “Blatant is beautiful.” 

He earned a doctorate in psychology and his pro bono work was all done at the Fort Snelling VA, counseling veterans. He passed on years ago, but if there is a heaven, I still look up to him in more ways than one. Blessings to all Fathers. May your children be kind and loving, especially to those who are in need or in any marginalized group. What you show them, of course, is what they will tend to emulate because you are their hero. 


Dr. Tom H. Hastings is Coördinator of Conflict Resolution BA/BS degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, PeaceVoice Senior Editor, and on occasion an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court.


Wanted: More Fathers on the Front Lines of Social Change

by Rob Okun

Women’s activism, including mothers in leadership roles, is legendary. Moms have long employed their moral authority as a parent to advance the social good. 

Where are the fathers and grandfathers? 

We care about our children and grandchildren, too. As parents, we have plenty of moral authority, right? Yes, but… Too often, we squander our identity as male role models, failing to leverage our unique perspective as men to advance issues of social justice.

Why are so many fathers and father figures standing mute on the sidelines of change?

Moms RisingMoms Demand Action, and Mothers Out Front are among the most well-known groups, but there are countless other mother-led organizations across the country. Where are Dads Rising, Dads Demand Action, Dads Out Front? I don’t care where Waldo is; I want to know “Where’s Dad-o?”

In part, the answer can be found by looking at the decades of women-led efforts to challenge gender inequality. In the modern era, it began to take shape following the publication of Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique 60 years ago. Nothing like a mountain of laundry, diapers to change, and supper to cook to raise your consciousness about gender injustice.

From the start of the women’s movement, women intrinsically understood the connection between nurturing and activism After all, it was that very liberation movement that gave us the iconic phrase “the personal is political.”  (Carol Hanisch coined the expression in 1968.) 

Meanwhile, activist men in the antiwar and civil rights movements of the 1960s rarely, if ever, considered gender. Of course, we were fervently committed to those struggles, but often more in our heads than our hearts. That disconnect may explain our dilemma today—why males have been unsuccessful organizing ourselves as fathers and men. Women in those movements understood the connections, integrating questions of sexual politics, motherhood, and marriage into a wide-ranging intersectional examination of identity that included equality, financial independence, and gender equity. Not us guys. If the term mansplaining had existed back then, we would have been called out for it regularly. 

It was men’s intransigence—and our obtuseness—failing to recognize how badly we were treating our activist sisters that hastened the birth of the women’s movement. For men, especially fathers and father figures, to fully join women as activist parents will require a lot of self-reflection on our part. I’m hardly exempt.

So how do we get men to leverage our gender identity to advance social justice goals? Mothers and other parenting partners are healthier and happier when fathers are highly engaged with their kids. That’s according to research conducted by Kevin Shafer, associate professor of sociology at Brigham Young University and Scott Easton, a sociologist and associate professor in the mental health department at Boston College. 

They say that men who care for their kids benefit too; they have improved self-image, sense of purpose, and healthy relationships. And communities gain increased trust and safety from the relationships built when fathers positively participate in their kids’ activities, schooling, and social networks. These are all essential if men and fathers are to integrate nurturing at home and social justice activism in the community.

To ensure that emotional openness and respect for women is widespread among future generations of men and fathers, researchers Shafer and Easton say we must That means more support for fathers in public policy, workplaces, and institutions.  Paid family leave, flexible work schedules, and including dads in both pre- and postnatal care are all essential to encourage more father involvement. This will aid men in gaining confidence to use our gender identity as a foundation for activism.

There are many routes to transformative fathering, all lead to men finding a way for activist dads to join moms on the front lines of social change. All fathers and father figures, not only biological ones.

All men who actively care for children have a critical role to play in instilling positive social values across generations—including addressing pressing social issues. Like mothers, they can parlay caring for their children into caring for the future, from gun violence to the climate crisis.

When that happens, we’ll begin hearing about groups like Dads Demand Action for Gun Sense and Fathers Outfront. Then it will only be a matter of time before we see intersectional dads organizing a Father’s Day march in the morning and firing up the grill in the afternoon. 


Rob Okun (, syndicated by PeaceVoicewrites about politics and culture. He is editor-publisher of Voice Male magazine, chronicling the antisexist men’s movement for more than three decades.