The image – and reality – of fathers has changed since the TV show Father Knows Best aired in the 1950s, but dad still deserves appreciation June 16.

Fatherhood has come a long way since Robert Young’s family drama was on the air from 1954 through 1960, but Father’s Day is still the third Sunday in June (and has been, ever since 1910). What Bud, Betty, and “Kitten” might have given Jim Anderson back in the 1950s can definitely be improved upon in 2013.

Not that there's anything wrong with the traditional gift ideas: Men still shave (or at least attend to their mustaches and beards occasionally). They sometimes wear ties. Many still grill and eat meat. But today there are more facets to the average father than there used to be.

Dads have become more like mothers (and vice versa). Thank goodness. They work in and out of the home; they take care of kids; they wish they had more sleep. They may live with another dad in the household. Or they may not be a “real” dad, but play one in real life, as a dad/uncle/friend hybrid for a certain child.

Like moms, they’d probably appreciate a gift of a beautiful pen, paper and heartfelt, handwritten note proclaiming the affection and appreciation that usually go unspoken by us children in our day-to-day lives with parents. They might also, like mum, appreciate a portable, elegant bottle opener from local company Quartertwenty. Or a breakfast in bed (here's an Austrian pancake recipe from my own expert pancake-making pop). Better still, all three.

Beyond that, get dad out of the house and take him for:

  • A day at the races. Portland has horseracing in the daytime this summer. Treat him to a couple bets on his behalf (to help pay for your college tuition?). 
  • An afternoon at the new exhibit on bicycles at the Portland Art Museum. 
  • Kayaking or canoeing on the Columbia Slough or the Willamette River. 
  • Roller Skating at Oaks Park. Introduce him to the time-tested way to get around on wheels.
To top it off, dazzle dad with these Fun Facts About Fathers (according to the last U.S. Census):
  • There are 70 million fathers in the U.S. 
  • 25 million of the dads in the U.S. were married and had kids 18 or under.
  • 15% of single parents were dads.
  • 176,000 men were stay at home dads in 2011 (i.e., married dads with kids under 15 whose spouse worked outside of the home to bring home the bacon), making up 3.4% of the stay at home parents. This compared to 81,000 men of the stay-at-homes in 2001.
Anecdotal evidence would have it that Portland is far above these statistics. What do you think? 
  • Who pushes the baby carriages on the sidewalks in your neighborhood, and in the aisles of your grocery store?
  • Who drops off and picks up the kids at pre-school?
  • Who takes the children to doctors appointments?
  • Who stays home from work when one of the kids is sick?
  • Has home life in Portland changed in the past ten or 20 years? 

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