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Funny card for Mom may bomb, but light touch makes Dad glad

SHARE Funny card for Mom may bomb, but light touch makes Dad glad

A Father's Day riddle: How many dads does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Answer: Well, I'm not really sure, because instead of just replacing the light bulb, they decided to tear out the ceiling and raise it a couple of feet, add some flying buttresses and install track lighting and a ceiling fan . . . and don't even ask me how many dads it took to do that!If you think your father would like to receive a Father's Day card with something silly like this on it, you're not alone. Funny cards are much more popular for Father's Day than Mother's Day, according to the greeting card industry. In fact, Father's Day is one of the three top occasions throughout the year for silly sentiments (the other two are graduation and Halloween).

More than 30 percent of his company's Father's Day cards are humorous, says Mark Stringer, director of alternative cards for American Greetings, while only 18 percent of those for mothers are designed to tickle the funny bone.

"When it comes to greeting card habits, some of the old stereotypes about men seem to be true," says Stringer. "It's tough to generalize, but many of the men we interviewed told us they don't feel comfortable with mushy, sentimental, poetic cards that `say too much.' And greeting card sales seem to bear this out."

Mom may not get the funny cards, but in terms of volume, she's still the winner. This past Mother's Day, approximately 178 million cards were sent. By comparison, the fathers of America will receive about 100 million cards.

Still, that makes Father's Day fifth on the list of card-giving occasions, well behind the 2.5 billion Christmas cards and 1 billion Valentine cards that were sent last year, and also behind Mother's Day and Easter, but ahead of Halloween and graduation and Thanksgiving.

But even with the fun and games, a new picture of dads is emerging in the greeting card aisles. In fact, if you want a quick lesson in changing trends in society, that's not a bad place to look.

Recent consumer research indicates that 70 percent of Americans now believe both men and women should be involved in daily child care, up sharply from 35 percent who felt that way just 20 years ago. And this new attitude is reflected in cards that show fathers as more nurturing.

"As society and relationships change, so do communication needs," says Pam McCrath, writing manager of editorial studios at American Greetings. "Father's Day provides a great chance for us to explore how gender roles in parenting today differ from those in the world we grew up in. Whether a man is part of a traditional, blended or single-parent family, it's socially acceptable for him to be a nurturing dad and for his children to express their love for him in a more open way."

So, we see cards like the one with a cartoon drawing of a dad sitting in a child-sized chair and "having tea" with his daughter and her teddy bear. And another that says: "Dad, I learned so much about living from you. . . . Through the peek-a-boos and pretend horsey rides, I learned that life should be fun. . . . Through the wiped-away tears and `it'll-all-be-OKs,' I learned to keep hope in my heart. . . . In big ways and small, you've nurtured my creativity, hope and confidence and made me so proud that you're my Dad."

Today's dad is manly, yes, but sensitive, too.