FernandoStein, M.D., FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
Letter from the President
The celebrations of our parents’ value to us and to society continue to be respected
traditions, commercialized as they may be.
Mother’s Day has the highest phone traffic of any day of the year. According to the
National Retail Federation, we spent $12.7 billion on Father’s Day in 2015 and for
the past 10 years an average of more than $10 billion a year. It is estimated this
year 77% of households will celebrate Father’s Day, spending an average $120 per household.
For Mom, we could spend $23.6 billion in 2017, nearly double that spent for Father’s
Day in 2015.
It is nice to celebrate our mothers, including stepmothers or mother figures (often
grandmothers). The same goes for fathers, stepfathers and grandfathers. Much could
be argued about a better way to spend the over $30 billion we will go through in the
two celebrations, but the fact of the matter is we do it because somehow we want to
and perhaps need to do it because it’s for Mom or because it is for Dad.
When we wanted a life of importance and meaning where what we said mattered, we chose
parenting. Well, it didn’t always matter what we said, but we were rich because we
had one of those possessions that do not last forever. We had the leadership, commitment
and ownership of a family even if only for about two or three decades depending on
the number of children. Then, the children go away and start their own cycle. Parenting
matters, fathers matter and mothers matter. Without question and all things considered,
we must celebrate parenting as the proudest of the professions. It is the industry
of populating our world with solid citizens.
I think if everyone in the world would have had my mom and dad, there would be no
wars and there would be no tyrants or hatred or supremacist ideologies. Maybe there
would not be any borders or walls.
There are some groups for whom these two symbolic days are being remembered but not
necessarily celebrated. The very poor, the children separated from their parents because
the forces that cause their flight of migration and those whose parents have been
deported as matter of law enforcement. For these children, Mother’s and Father’s Days
are somewhat similar to a dream (with colors of nightmare).
We need to work in showing that our profession is engaged and busy with the ones who
need more than the ones who have more. Our society must choose to organize to help
the helpless. We should help to maintain the integrity of the family however defined
but never surrender to attacks on its unity when the threat of separation is used
as a tool of intimidation or ideological implementation.
I want to end with a quote from late writer and humorist Erma Bombeck: “It's the three
pairs of eyes that mothers have to have ... One pair that see through closed doors
… Another in the back of her head ... and, of course, the ones in front that can look
at a child when he goofs up and reflect, ‘I understand and I love you’ without so
much as uttering a word.”