It’s easy to fall into the feature zone when holidays roll around.

And with Father’s Day fast approaching, it’s natural to scramble for a list of 21 gifts dad might want, or a list of golf courses he’d be interested in playing.

But the day also offers an opportunity to discuss substantive issues concerning fatherhood, many of which don’t otherwise find their way to the light of day.

Here’s a list of four ideas in advance of dad’s big day that can keep your readership talking:

How far has fatherhood come?

“Making Good on Fatherhood: A Review of the Fatherhood Research” is a fascinating study published earlier this year by the Child and Family Research Partnership at the University of Texas at Austin.

Among the interesting points found in the study: Until the last decade, responsible fatherhood programs primarily strived to help fathers earn more money, even though, as the study says, “findings from these studies have overwhelmingly shown that children with involved fathers fare better across a wide range of domains when compared to their counterparts without an active father.”

Find a local responsible fatherhood program and incorporate some of the key points from this study. This can be a powerful and useful piece.

What are dad’s legal rights?

It’s certainly not a warm and fuzzy approach to the holiday, but the evolving landscape has blurred the legal lines for fathers on topics like divorce, child support, custody and visitation rights.

We all hope the day doesn’t come where this information is necessary, but what happens when it is? Talk to a local attorney about the best starting points on each of these important topics.

About.com’s piece on 10 tips for fathers in surviving the divorce process is a perfect example of a practical story helping the population that’s being honored. In other words, being warm and fuzzy isn’t necessarily helping, but pieces like this can.

Dads behind bars

According to this piece on the National Fatherhood Initiative’s site, there are 2.7 million children with a parent in prison or jail, and of those, 92 percent are fathers.

Here are some other interesting facts:

  • Fathers in prison are, overwhelmingly, fatherless themselves.
  • Youths in father-absent households have significantly higher odds of incarceration.
  • More than 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison every year.
  • Fathers are returning to their families without the skills they need to be involved, responsible and committed fathers.
  • Two-thirds of released prisoners, or 429,000, are likely to be rearrested within three years.

This can make maintaining relationships with children difficult, and often lends itself to strained relationships. What are local groups doing to help with both ends of this issue — helping fathers in prison understand the impact of their actions on children, and helping children maintain meaningful relationships with their fathers?

Famous dads and their impact

We’ll fess up — we’re borrowing this idea from the Rockford Register-Star, which used the same premise for Mother’s Day. This works for multiple reasons: It gives you some interesting insight, and it offers a great reason to talk with the family of your most famous natives!

It’s a little softer, for sure, but still can offer some practical advice for young fathers, especially if you ask the right questions, and get the right answers.

Here’s Rockford’s story a great alternative-story-form-turned-Sunday-centerpiece.

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And just because we’d like to offer some meatier topics, that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in wonderful fluff like …

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