Sonora Smart Dodd: A Tribute to Fatherhood and the Role of Great Fathers

Have you ever heard of a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd? If you are familiar with the celebration of Father’s Day, which is typically observed on the third Sunday of June, you may have come across her name. She was a remarkable woman from Spokane, Washington, who played a pivotal role in the establishment of World Father’s Day. According to LiveScience, the history of Father’s Day began with the story of Sonora Smart Dodd in May 1909. Dodd attended a Mother’s Day sermon at church and was inspired to create a special day for her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran who had raised Dodd and her five siblings single-handedly after his wife passed away during childbirth.

Initially, Dodd wanted to celebrate Father’s Day on June 5th, her father’s birthday. She even petitioned to have the day recognized as a holiday in her city, but it took quite some time for her efforts to come to fruition. Eventually, the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19th, 1910, in accordance with the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. This year, Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 18th, 2023.

Aside from William Jackson Smart, who was an extraordinary father to Sonora Smart Dodd, there are countless other great fathers out there. Fathers are revered, loved, and relied upon. They possess incredible strength in guiding, protecting, and providing unwavering support for their families. However, a recurring question arises: Must a great father be capable of everything? Sometimes, I’ve felt a tinge of inferiority when I see other fathers adeptly fixing their children’s toys while I struggle with the task. Perhaps there are other things that I’m not proficient at, whereas the “other fathers” seem to excel. Have you ever experienced such sentiments?

The role of a father has undoubtedly undergone significant changes over time. In the past, fathers were often regarded as the sturdy backbone of the family, responsible for financial matters. However, the role of fathers has evolved to be more than just providing. Modern fathers are expected to be actively involved in their children’s upbringing, contribute to household chores, and provide substantial emotional support. These demands placed on today’s fathers often give rise to high expectations and questions. Should a father be proficient at changing diapers, cooking dinner, fixing household damage, and simultaneously being a successful breadwinner? Should a father be perfect in every aspect of his role?

It is essential to remember that no human being is perfect. Each individual possesses their own strengths and limitations, fathers included. Expecting fathers to be perfect in every aspect can create a burdensome and unrealistic burden. Instead of evaluating whether fathers must be capable of everything, it is crucial to appreciate their contributions and efforts. A great father is not defined by the skills or abilities they possess but by the commitment, love, and exemplary behavior they exhibit for their families.

A great father is someone who strives to be a positive role model for their children, imparting values such as honesty, hard work, empathy, and responsibility. They are present to listen, provide emotional support, and be a haven of protection for their families. Although a great father may not be perfect in all things, they continue to learn and strive to become better each day. They may not know how to cook exquisite meals, but they will do their best to provide healthy and nutritious food for their families. They may not excel at fixing all household damages, but they will make an effort to repair anything broken to ensure their family’s comfort.

Therefore, a great father does not have to be capable of everything. A great father is someone who is committed to being a supporter, protector, and educator for their family. They are an inspiration, providing unconditional love to their children. They are present in their children’s lives, forging strong bonds and offering the necessary encouragement for growth and development.

In the Quran, Surah Luqman (31:13–19) emphasizes the crucial role of a father as a leader and educator for their children. Fathers should not neglect their responsibility in the education of their children by solely relying on the mother and school. Children need the presence of their fathers in their developmental process, a presence that cannot be replaced by anyone else.

Although I have never personally celebrated Father’s Day specifically, let us consider it a moment to always remember our fathers, appreciating and honoring the significant role they play in our lives. Let us strive to become great fathers to our children, according to our capabilities. Completing one another within the family is key, where each member can help and support one another. Remember, no father is perfect, but they all strive to be the best for their families.