Father’s Day is this Sunday. If you haven’t found the gift yet you want to give, this article might help. I received a lot of positive feedback for the Mother’s Day article I wrote last month about different ways to show mothers you care. I’ll briefly review the five ways that marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman wrote about in his book, “The 5 Love Languages,” and offer some hints and suggestions specifically for your dad.
Hopefully you’ve paid attention enough to know what has made your dad happy in the past. Also, use this time to share what you really appreciate about your father. Dads need positive feedback, too. Everyone does. Let your father know what he’s done that has really helped you, and made you feel good.
Hopefully, you’ll also remember all the things that you don’t think about much, but are there, like a roof over your head, electricity, health care when you’re sick, food, feeling safe when he’s home, and anything else. Maybe he fixes you a special dinner, or makes a special dessert. It doesn’t have to be big, or expensive. Just something that shows he loves you.
Something else he may do, that really helps, but kids don’t often like is to give discipline. I can remember to this day my dad saying, “I can’t stand a liar, and won’t tolerate it in my house.” I tested it, got caught, and suffered the consequences. But to this day, honesty is a character trait that I’m glad that he taught me. I learned later that a person’s honor is extremely important. Honesty is a habit now, as character traits become. Your parents have the job of teaching you to be responsible for what you do. Maybe you don’t like it now, but in time, you will.
Think: you’re assigned a group project in school. You’re in a team of three. One person has a reputation of being honest and responsible. The other always offers excuses as to why he can’t get something done, and sometimes makes up stories to go with it. Who are you really grateful for on that team? How would you want people to think of you? Until you learn to monitor yourself, it’s the parents job to shape your behavior with rewards and discipline.
Keep in mind that people will do again what they are acknowledged for. How would your dad know that you really liked something if you didn’t give him feedback. Maybe he thinks you really like to go to rodeos, but the dust and heat and just sitting aren’t what you like on a hot summer day so much, but he also takes you snorkeling, and you just find that fascinating! You don’t need to say what you don’t like. Focus on what you really do like.
If you think that your dad might like to do one of the following things, here’s a way to plant a seed of asking your father to go somewhere special with you: buy him a ticket, or get a gift certificate for something you’d like to do, such as Garden Island Racing Association events. I just Googled that tickets cost $12. A movie ticket costs $9. Kauai Mini Golf is a little more expensive: $18 for anyone 11 and older, but the last Sunday of the month they offer Kama’ainas free golf from 4 to 8 p.m. on a first-come first-served basis. Bring an ID. So maybe you go to the beach first! That’s free! Bring a Frisbee and have a catch …
If your dad doesn’t live at home, and you’re being raised by a single mom, celebrate her on Father’s Day. She’s doing double duty, so give her double the rewards.
Some people appreciate that you love them by selecting that perfect gift. I mentioned some above, and believe me, those appreciation letters if done with love go right to the heart. Adding to a personal collection or things relating to a hobby could work.
Some people just want your undivided attention, without any interruptions or distractions. As a teen or pre-teen, you’re going through lots of changes. Your parents love you, and want to stay close to you, knowing how you think. Sharing quality time is time to get to know each other. A long walk on the beach at sunset would give a structure to the time, if you are not close to your dad already. Positive time to really be close to a person is a gift to you both. You’ll love and trust each other, which is important to have when life conflicts occur. Dads, it’s been proven that you just can’t go in criticizing and disciplining a child if the child doesn’t know that you love them. The love needs to be established first. Don’t assume that they know you love them. Lots of kids have doubts.
Nearly everyone likes to be physically touched, hugged and cuddled. Sadly, as kids become an adolescent, dads have to be careful about this. Kids and dads still need the physical affection, but it needs to be expressed in safe places, like heads, shoulders, arms. hands, and maybe tickling feet. Although I’m sure there will be guy wrestling matches. Just make sure that it doesn’t escalate. I know of one brother who put another in the hospital when their bout got out of hand.
Affirmations of love — This goes beyond appreciating them. Some people want to hear from you that you love them. And they’ll want to hear it more than once. Parents are taught in parent effectiveness trainings that they should tell their kids every day that they like them. It’s a good practice for their kids too.
I remember when my teenage daughter read that a mother died in a car crash, and that the daughter was so glad that the last thing she said to her was, “I love you Mom.” We said it to each other every time one of us left home, until she moved out! I also remember the opposite. A woman was devastated when her husband died from a heart attack because she and he hadn’t resolved an argument they were having when he left for work.
Acts of service
Some folks like it when you do things for them. Yesterday, I had just placed my sweet granddaughter in the bathtub when I saw a huge cane spider on the bathroom wall. I shrieked, snatched up the baby and called for Joshua. He promptly removed it, and I was so very appreciative, and felt loved. So now think: what is a way to serve or help your dad? Does he have a chore that he particularly dislikes? Maybe he’s sick of sharpening knives, or edging the lawn. You could do it, and learn a good skill, while he “chillaxes” inside watching a favorite sport. Downtime is good for dads, moms, anyone really. Stress all the time is very unhealthy.
You can combine these ways to show love, too. Here’s one example: You make a card that has your appreciation list on it. Fix breakfast and take it to Dad in bed. Pancakes are pretty easy if you use a mix, or maybe you’re good in the kitchen. Remember the coffee or something to drink too. You may want to work this out with your mom the night before (service).
Wake him gently with a kiss on the forehead (affection). Tell him “Happy Father’s Day, and “I love you” (affirmation). Suggest that you’d love to go for a walk on the beach, or hike a trail (quality time), and then buy him a big shave ice, or hamburger later (gift). Or instead of fixing him breakfast in bed, you give him a gift certificate for the mowing of the lawn, or washing windows, or something (Still service, but a gift too).
Now you can also go to the 27,500,000 websites that come up when you Google “Ways to show love,” for ideas, or just be still and ask your heart.
I know you’ll have fun. You’ll get those endorphins going when you do kind things for your Dad, or the person who stands in for your dad for you. It’s in our biology!
Please remember to email me topics you’d like for me to cover “In The Corner.” We’re here to serve.
Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org