A Celebration of Moms and Dads: National Parents’ Day

Today’s post comes from Andrew Grafton in the National Archives History Office. 

Photograph of First Dad Bill Clinton with his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, 11/7/2000. (National Archives Identifier 5899937)

In a nation as large and as diverse as the United States, it is rare to find something that nearly half of its citizens have in common. Though the U.S. economy supports a variety of different careers, there is one job that almost 150 million Americans share: being a parent.

In order to commemorate the major impact that parents have on the next generation of American citizens, parents and children alike across the United States celebrate National Parents’ Day. The national observance of Parents’ Day occurs annually on the fourth Sunday in July.

This year, Parents’ Day falls on July 24.

Although not as well-known as the traditional Mother’s and Father’s Days, National Parents’ Day nonetheless bears an important place in United States history and culture. The day is designated to celebrate the significant role that parents play in the lives of their children and to promote smart and responsible parenting.

On August 5, 1994, a joint resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives on “to establish the Fourth Sunday in July as Parents’ Day.” The House passed it on September 30, and the Senate on October 4. On October 14, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the resolution, and National Parents’ Day was born.

The resolution was enacted to support those who take on “the important role . . . of raising a child.” It also states that National Parents’ Day “is a chance to create a positive tradition based on a core axiom—that the role of parents is crucial in the nurturing and development of children, and thus requires investment, focus, and commitment.”

Parents' Day Proclamation 1998
President Clinton’s Parents’ Day Proclamation, July 24, 1998. (Office of the Federal Register, National Archives)

The first National Parents’ Day was celebrated on July 28, 1995. The occasion also marked the first awarding of the National Parents of the Year Award, presented by President Clinton at the White House that same day.

Though not a federal holiday, Parents’ Day is designated as a national observance and has been celebrated each year.

The occasion is supported by the National Parents’ Day Council, which oversees the selection of the annual Parents of the Year Award. The council accepts nominations from the general public, using the criteria such as “sacrificial love” and “a noteworthy record of contributing to their family and community.”

National Parents’ Day has also inspired similar holidays around the globe. In 2012 the United Nations proclaimed that June 1 of each year would be known as “Global Day of Parents” to highlight parents’ “selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.”

If you are looking for information on your own family, visit the National Archives Genealogy website to get started.

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