The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Mother’s Day and Motherly Advice

MOTHER’S DAY VS. FATHER’S DAY: NO CONTEST

Nine out of 10 American consumers will take part in some aspect of Mother’s Day.

Father’s Day? Five out of 10.uamatters_logo

Mother’s Day cards outsell Father’s Day cards 2-to-1.

Mother’s Day is widely reported as the peak day of the year for long distance phone calls.

So why is Mother’s Day such a big deal and Father’s Day not so much?

“I think it’s rooted in prevailing gender assumptions. Traditionally, dads provide, while mothers nurture,” says Dr. Rich Megraw, professor of American studies at The University of Alabama.

“Also, the modern masculine hero is supposed to be an ‘aw shucks,’ self-effacing guy who just goes out and does what needs doing without fanfare or limelight.

“A similar convention amplifies a mother’s emotional investment in child-rearing, something which may well contribute to the heightened sentimentality of the day set aside to honor that commitment,” says Megraw.

Megraw adds that it also could be that fathers tend to be more low maintenance. Moms like to receive items such as jewelry or flowers, and dads are happy with an afternoon barbecue or watching the ball game without distraction.

“I remember Father’s Day, 1964, when for his ‘day’ my Dad opted to sit down, take it easy, and watch the Phillies, who were at Shea for two with the Mets — just in time to watch the Game One starter, Jim Bunning, pitch the first Perfect Game in the National League in nearly 80 years,” recalls Megraw.

MOTHERLY ADVICE: LOVING, BUT NOT ACCURATE

On Mother’s Day, we think back to all the advice our mothers gave us as we were growing up:

-Don’t make that face or it’ll freeze that way.

-Wait an hour after eating before swimming.

-Don’t go outside with wet hair. You’ll catch a cold.

Mothers may not always be accurate in their advice to their children, but most advice is given with loving thoughts, says Dr. Jerome Rosenberg, professor of psychology at The University of Alabama.

“I remember hearing those in some variation from my mother and remember how they all had a kernel of truth that I didn’t understand until I was much older,” says Rosenberg.

As a matter of fact, Rosenberg says he’s even heard his wife saying some of the same things to their kids, and he thinks that should continue.

“I would be very upset if all future mothers did not continue to say the same thing, mean it with love, affection and protectiveness and let these motherly truths endure,” he says.

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UA Matters is a bi-weekly column that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The columns are available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Suzanne Dowling at 205/348-8324 or sdowling@ur.ua.edu.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.