Getting Personal: Appreciation & Father’s Day

June 15, 2016 10:55 am Published by

family with adult children relaxing on sofa at home together

Typically, I address work relationship issues in my posts.  Today, however, I want to cross over into the personal realm a bit because the 5 languages of appreciation do have a direct connection to Father’s Day.  While the 5 Love Languages clearly and effectively address how to communicate love to the fathers in your life (your dad or stepdad, your husband, brothers), many may find communicating appreciation to these dads easier than conveying “love”.  So let me give some suggestions on different ways to show appreciation for the dads in your life, based on what we know about the 5 languages.

First, it is important to note that there are both general cultural norms and specific family expectations (learned over time) about what you should do for “dad”.  Getting him a gift, making him a card, calling on the phone (even for 5 minutes) — all can be expected.  The problem with this is: not every dad feels appreciated in the same ways.  (I’m pretty sure my dad got tired of receiving neckties – some nice, some stupid — over the years.)   Let’s look at some different options you maybe haven’t thought of:

  • Gifts.  Some people like gifts; others don’t.  Depending on the person (and often their life stage), the type of gift differs.  Typically, later in life things become less important to older adults, and they often communicate: “I don’t need anything” (which is often true, and what they want, you can’t afford!)  When gifts are important to an individual, the value is more about the thought behind the gift, rather than the amount spent.  Getting them something that you think they would enjoy, or taking time and effort to find the “right” one (or even more so, making the gift) is what is valued.  Typically, stopping by Walmart on the way to their house, picking out a cheesy card and a t-shirt that is on sale isn’t the way to their heart.
  • Time. Many fathers don’t want a ‘thing’, they want ‘you’ — your time and attention.  So, setting up a time to stop by and visit them (or when you live at a distance, to Skype or Facetime) can be very meaningful to your dad.  Some guys aren’t real verbal, and sitting around and talking actually becomes uncomfortable (for everyone!).  But doing something with them can be just as meaningful — watching a sporting event together, working on a project, fishing, tossing the ball, going on a walk.  Since time has become our most valuable resource for most of us, giving of your time can speak volumes.
  • Acts of Service.  Getting things done — whether around the house, at the cabin or elsewhere — often is a challenge for dads. And some of us don’t have the skills needed to do the task (at least easily or successfully).  So helping your dad out with a small project may be really appreciated.  It may seem like nothing to you, but getting it done (especially while spending time with you) can be quite encouraging. Another option is to do something for your dad that he really doesn’t like doing (like mowing the lawn when it’s 90 degrees out.)
  • Physical Touch.  Ok, we can joke about the dads who go stiff when you give them a hug (or try to).  You will know what your family’s culture is about hugs, handshakes, a pat on the back or wrestling (for younger dads with kids).  Even though dads may seem uncomfortable when you try to show your appreciation physically, I wouldn’t necessarily assume they don’t like it.  Many guys have been acculturated to “feel weird” about hugs (especially with their sons). But many men have an experience of warmth and acceptance when their kid (or wife, or grandchild) shows that they care by giving a hug.
  • Words of Affirmation.  Communicating appreciation through words can be a simple as “Thanks, dad, for …..”, or getting him a card (preferably write a little personal note in it). The key is to be specific versus generic (“thanks for being a great dad” doesn’t really communicate much).  Try to think of some specific character trait (being generous) or a tradition (going to your ball games) that impacted your life.  Sometimes it is easier for individuals to receive specific thanks in private rather than in front of others, so think about that aspect, as well.

All dads have faults and make mistakes.  Some dads have acted in ways that make it tough to love and appreciate them. But, when possible, do something this Father’s Day that is meaningful to them to communicate your appreciation for how they’ve impacted your life positively.   Your words and actions won’t be a waste of time and effort.


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June 15, 2016 10:55 am

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