It is reasonable to assume that early humans, like their primate ancestors, were polygamous and that their offspring, once sexually mature, left the clan for good. As human civilization developed, there has been a steady progression toward the family unit, headed by a father and a mother, the members of which retain lifelong relationships. Most sociologists would likely agree that this cultural shift has helped to stabilize human society, even as natural tendencies and the complex nature of modern life have threatened to tear it apart.
The role of fathers, however, has been diminished in recent decades as the incidence of fatherless families has risen. Three sociological factors are primarily responsible for this trend: the unfortunate acceptance of paternal irresponsibility in some ethnic groups, the high rate of divorce (which usually transfers parenting duties to the mother) and the increasing use of artificial insemination by unmarried, middle aged, upscale women. Despite the fact that many studies have demonstrated a higher rate of emotional and behavioral disorders in the children (primarily sons) from fatherless families, this trend continues and fathers are becoming an endangered segment of human society.
Though sponsored by greeting card companies and opportunistic retailers, Father's Day does force us to acknowledge the declining role of the male parent and to consider the negative effects that this shift may have on society as a whole. Of course, the solutions rest primarily in the hands of the fathers themselves, who must accept responsibilities beyond their role as sperm donors.