By Sue LeBreton
How can you ensure that your Father’s Day efforts hit the mark? First, think about how the father figure in your life demonstrates his love for others. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor and author of The 5 Love Languages, all of us have a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. They are: (1) words of affirmation (2) quality time (3) receiving gifts (4) acts of service and (5) physical touch. If your spouse or father’s primary love language is acts of service, no matter how great the present is that you give, it will not delight him as much as if you did something for him like washing his car.
Words of Affirmation
Words may be spoken or written. If your children are old enough, think about writing a poem (acrostics are fun) to express how you all feel about him. Tanya Bonham made and framed a Top Ten Reasons My Dad is The Best list. “I put it in my son’s words. Sometimes it was grammatically incorrect, but you could hear his little three-year-old voice while you read it.”
Children can also express their love in pictures. Use photos of the kids and dad together to make a collage showing how much they love to spend time with dad. If you make your collage on a larger piece of construction paper and laminate it, you will have a placemat that can remind Dad daily of how much he is loved. Challenge teens to use technology to tell Dad they love him by making a video or slide show.
Talk to Dad and see what sort of quality time he would most enjoy. Maybe on Father’s Day he wants to do something special on his own or perhaps he wants to make a new memory with the kids. Museums and zoos offer sleepovers and special events that dads and kids can enjoy. Can you say elephant washing? You could sign them up for a shared outing in the future. How about golf lessons, tickets to a concert or an outing to a climbing center? Think interactive and novel.
Jason deSoto, one of five grown children, has learned over the years that his father is not a fan of gifts. “ He loves to spend Father’s Day hiking, canoeing or simply watching his kids and grand kids participate in activities. So my gift to him is usually organizing a family gathering.”
This is the obvious choice but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Some of the best gifts are those made lovingly by small hands. Think about Dad’s interests. Is he sporty? Is he musical? Is he creative? Supplies and equipment for hobbies are always a good bet. If he loves a good practical joke I suggest the book The Encyclopedia of Immaturity, so popular it comes in two volumes.
Acts of Service
Brainstorm with your children to discover something everyone can do for Dad. Does Dad have a chore you can take over for a day, a week or even a month? Make coupons to offer your services. The ever popular, breakfast in bed falls into this category. Consider expanding this idea beyond your family and volunteer together, letting Dad choose the charity.
Plan extra hugs and kisses for Dad on his special day. How about offering him a massage, either one at home or a professional one? Make mementos for Dad of those special hands and feet. You can cast foot or hand prints to make garden stones or use fabric paint to create a T-shirt or barbecue apron. Update these items regularly to document your children’s growth.
Perhaps you can combine one or more love languages such as a gift and quality time. Anne Marie Healey used this tactic when she arranged a surprise golf weekend for her and her husband. “He had no idea. I had arranged for him to get off work Friday afternoon, for my sister to babysit and hid an overnight bag in the trunk.”
Involve your children in the brainstorming and you can expect many creative and fun ideas. Try to tailor your gift to Dad’s love language and do not be afraid to try something whacky and new
Sue LeBreton is a health and wellness journalist. Her language of love is acts of service so she would prefer that a loved one clean her car instead of buying her a gift.