In today’s world of feminism and equal rights, dads might feel that they are not essential anymore.
Many of them are still the main providers for the family; helping more at home, being hands-on daddies and volunteering their time to coach sports teams. And then they still have time (and energy) left over to chase the monsters from under the bed and help kids build billy carts…
Research all over show that kids with a poor relationship with their fathers are more prone to promiscuity, more likely to join gangs, struggle more in school, are more vulnerable to exploitation and making poor life decisions.
Kids, and here I mean, boys and girls, who have a strong and healthy relationship with their fathers have a better self-esteem, perform better in school and in life, manage their finances better, are less likely to suffer anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
I think we should show our dads more often how much they mean to us. We should show our appreciation in as many ways as we can! Not just on this one special day a year. But how?
What if your dad already has 12 ‘best dad’ mugs, pj’s and socks? How else can we show our love and appreciation for them?
One of my favourite books is ‘The 5 love languages’ by Dr Gary Chapman, a family psychologist. In his book, he describes different ways how people show and receive love. Often, we think we are showing our love to someone significant in our lives, but because they have a different love language to us, they can’t ‘hear’ us. And that is just soooo sad…
So, what are the 5 love languages?
Yes. Yes. One of the languages are gifts. Some people value a physical token of our love. For them, a gift has special meaning, but then it must also show that you truly know the person and buy them something they will truly like and use, not that random gift from a chain store you bought hurriedly the day before Father’s Day. They will more likely treasure that homemade pottery mug made at daycare. You know, the one that is definitely not water tight and will never be used to actually drink coffee from.
However, we are taught in society that gifts are the most important love language: the more expensive, the more you love that person.
This is a lie.
It is actually just a marketing ploy to get more money out of your pocket into theirs.
Lucky for us, there are other ways to express our love, many often overlooked. And here they are:
Words of affirmation
Many dads find immense pleasure when we TELL them how much they mean to us. Especially if we can go into detail and give some specifics. For them a handwritten letter telling them why you love them will be more appreciated than that store-bought card. And no, you don’t have to be soppy (but also, why not?). Of course, we can also say it verbally.
Look them in the eye, take time and tell them in person how much you love them.
Idea: List 52 or 365 (or however many you want) reasons you love your dad. Print and cut into strips. Stuff it all into a decorated jar. Give to dad on Father’s Day so he can read it over the coming days or weeks, or even the whole year. That way your gift will last a really long time. But I think he will secretly hide in his shed and read them all at once. Why in the shed? So you can’t see him tear up…
We all need physical touch. We are social beings.
Even big and strong daddies need hugs.
So, a true hug given with love will go a long way. A tickle fight or wrestling match too. Or just a snuggle on the couch while you watch a movie.
Idea: Make a pledge to hug dad every day for 28 days. Why 28 days? By then it is habit and you might both like to continue with this physical expression of your love.
Acts of service
Dads do so much for us, often without grumbling and complaining. And then kids grumble that ONE time they are asked to take out the bin.
Imagine if we could vow to also do our bit? Without even being asked (gasp!)
Idea: Make him some vouchers he can use for certain tasks around the house, or buy him a voucher for a detailed car cleaning service, garden service or gutter cleaning. Unless of course, your dad enjoys doing these things. Well, if this is the case, you know what his love language is, don’t you? In that case, try the next one:
Often dads have to spend their weekends taking kids to and from sports, coaching kids sports, gardening, house maintenance, or whatever.
But how often do we spend time with dad doing something HE enjoys?
Recently we went away for a weekend. The town had a car museum. Dad got excited, the girls not so much. I had a nice (private) chat with the girls and then we took dad to the car museum, pretending to be interested in all the old cars and motorbikes. And you know what? It wasn’t even that bad. Secretly I think they did enjoy it a little bit. And in the process, the girls learned something 1. How cars have changed over the years and 2. We all have to do things as family members that might not be what we want, but to fulfill a need of another family member.
And that is what it means to be a family.
So, buy dad that special gift if you want to. But why not do something different this year? Tell dad how much you love him, and how much you appreciate him, give him hugs often, do something for him for a chance, so that there is more time doing something with him that he enjoys.
And remember to do these things all year round, not just on Father’s Day!
P.S. And a special virtual hug to you if you are not in a position to do these things, whether your dad (or the dad of your kids) passed away, or you are in lockdown and can’t get to your dad or the relationship is not there to show you love and care. Then Father’s Day can be hard …