As the year moves on, we are rapidly approaching Father’s Day.  It’s the one time of the year where Dad’s get gaudy looking ties because their children don’t know them well enough to know what to give them, children leave them alone because their mother tells them to when they really would like to spend time with their kids, and Dad is expected to grill on the BBQ for several hours out in the hot sun to feed all the family that is celebrating . . . his day.  Congratulations Dad!

OK, maybe Father’s Day isn’t quite so bleak, even if I have a closet full of ties that would prove otherwise.  Father’s Day should mean that we recognize the things that all of our Father’s do for us.  (I know you are all staring at your computer screen trying to come up with your dad did for you but are drawing a blank.  Go ahead.  Take your time.  We are waiting …)

We would seem to need a Father’s Day Guide.  The problem with Father’s Day comes down to the issue of comparing Dads to Moms.  I mean no disrespect to mothers whatsoever.  Mom’s are amazing and do a ton of work that as children we can never possibly repay.  But let’s be honest.  Mom’s do all the showy work.  They fix the meals . . . sometimes.  (Ok, that’s not quite fair.  It just was the situation in my marriage prior to the divorce.)  They take you to school.  They pick you up from school.  And they deal with the bumps and bruises of life.

If you got a scrape, they put antibiotic on it and soothed the pain.  If you needed the right clothes for the school dance, I am guessing you went to mom once again.  And if you need someone to smooth things over with friends or a co-worker, mom will come to the rescue.  Moms do so much that we see.

Dad does not do any of the more visible stuff.  Although I do have to say that my dad helped me learn to ride a bike.  And my dad also helped me play catch with a baseball after the first time doing so I got hit in the head.  But dad’s are more the supportive security.  They exist behind the scenes.  Like the CIA, Dads are always there looking out for their kids, and we are grateful that they are there.

But we rarely hear from them.  Except to “knock it off” when we are getting too loud.  Or to “respect your mother” when they feel like we are becoming too disrespectful.  Or they are the ones who dominate the remote control on the television set, driving us into our bedrooms to play on the computer, talk on the phone, or find a way to get out of the house as quickly as possible.  Because watching the Civil War documentary on the History Channel for the 50th time was 49 times too many.

Dads often fall through the cracks when it comes to celebrations, and then there is the “Single Dad”.  Dads are lost in the shuffle these days as it is, second class citizens in their own homes.  (Watch any TV commercial or television show and try and count on one hand the dads who aren’t idiots.)   But I am a single father who gets to see his daughter every other weekend, holidays, and Wednesday evenings.  And being a single dad compares to being a lost toy on the island of misfit toys.  You felt relegated to a second-hand parenting role as it was.  Now you feel more like the tenth.

And when your ex-wife starts getting serious about another guy it gets even worse.  This other guy ends up seeing your child more than you do.  As a dad, when you were with your former partner, you didn’t have the opportunity to experience that natural bond that the mother had with the child.  You could only come home after work and spend moments with them before dinner and then bedtime.  So while you may not be replaced, you feel replaced.

Let us not relegate fathers to the dustbin of history any longer.  And for the single dad, let’s make sure that we go out and give him a hug.  Because he probably needs it.  Furthermore, let us celebrate all of the things Dads do for us.  And maybe . . . just maybe . . . we learn to appreciate them in some deeper way.  As such, today I will be posting a list of 10 things our dads do for us, and ten corresponding gifts that you can give to dad.  If one of the ways your dad supports you is especially meaningful to you, then maybe that corresponding gift would be something they would appreciate.  So without further ado, I present this Father’s Day Guide.

Father’s Day Guide: Ten Ways Our Dads Support Us And Ten Meaningful Gifts To Give To Them

10) Our Dads Work Hard And Provide Financially For The Family – (Head Massager)

This is probably the easiest one to think about.  But it’s also the one that seems to have lost most of it’s meaning.  It’s possible because some Dads have interpreted that to mean that they are “the Dad King” when they get home.  But that’s not the norm.  They usually come home to chaos of some sort or another.  And then they are the finances.  Money is one of the biggest stressors in any marriage.  This dad needs to be able to relax and unwind.  He’s also probably practical and would panic if someone purchased him a spa day at a spa.  Besides, he thinks to himself, they are wasting all of those cucumbers.

I would get this dad a head massager.  You can pick one up at Walmart or almost any place with some home health care these days.  They are relatively inexpensive, especially for younger children looking for a gift for dad.  And they help them deal with stress headaches when they get home.

9) Our Dad Helps Tuck Us In At Night – (Weighted Blanket or Throw)

It’s very rare that a dad is involved in getting kids up early in the morning and out the door.  I know as a single dad I do.  But when I was married, my ex was the one to make sure my daughter was up and ready for school.  The only thing I might have done was the driving.  But tucking my daughter into bed at night was part of the ritual.  This meant making sure that I was there for her right up until the time of sleep.  And sometimes I was there for her until she did sleep.  It’s part of the security thing that they help out with.  It comforts us to know that they are there watching over us and making sure the monsters under our bed do not steal our feet while we are sleeping.

So what do you do for this dad?  I would get him a weighted blanket or throw.  Brookstone has a really nice one, albeit a little more on the expensive side.  But it’s very soft and it caressing your body as you relax in comfort.  I know my dad after his accident and sleeping on a recliner really could have used something like this to keep him comfortable on the long cold nights.  If you don’t want to go that expensive I have seen decent throws for as little as 10 dollars.  And what wouldn’t you do to give your dad a good nights sleep?

8) Our Dad Helps Us Out With Our Vehicles – (Jump Starter Kit)

I have to admit that I have had my dad be this for me more than once.  I have had my car break down in all sorts of ways.  And my dad has become my defacto initial mechanic.  I know that as a dad I now have to try to learn a bit about cars.  I can do basic things like change tires, replace breaks, change oil, and multitudinous smaller fixes for a car.  So that one day I will be able to do those things for my daughter.  I don’t know that I will be the mechanic my dad was, but I really want to be there for my daughter.  Because ultimately I like doing things for my daughter.  Dads like that sort of thing.  And helping with the car is one way Dads can do that.

For Dads who want something to help out with cars, one of the best things to give him is a jump starter kit.  If he doesn’t already have one, it provides security for you all those times when your car is running out of power.  Not only does it allow you to jump your car, it also has the ability to charge up the battery so that you won’t have to worry about charging your battery when you leave.  Unless, of course, the alternator isn’t working.  And then you still have Dad.

7) Our Dad Helps Provide Us With A Sense Of Humor – (Joke Book)

How many times have you heard the term “dad jokes”?  And how many times have you groaned at hearing one?  Truthfully, I think all you kids love it.  The truth is, I look at my daughter whenever a Dad-joke is told, and she has a twinkle in her eye.  She lights up when the punch line comes across just before she groans.  And all Dads know that our kids love it or we wouldn’t keep telling the jokes.  Or we could be deluding ourselves.  Either way, won’t you miss those jokes when they stop being told?  You know you will.

So what better to help out our Dads then with a good joke book.  Or it could be a bad joke book.  I mean, at least you will hear different bad jokes.  No harm in that right?  Just invest yourself in a good set of ear plugs.

6) Our Dads Help Teach Us That Life Is About Balance – (Make A Dads Day Dessert)

So our Dads are a counterbalance to our mothers in our lives.  Mothers teach us all kinds of amazing things.  And they expect us to behave and act in very particular ways.  There is nothing wrong with learning the things that Mothers teach us.  They are all good things.  But life isn’t just about doing your homework or behaving in all the appropriate ways.  The beauty of life comes in small things.  Appreciation of nature. The building of relationships.  And indulging, even if only once in a while.  Think about any good diet and they tell you to allow for failure or you won’t ultimately succeed.

So what should do you do for your Dad?  Let him indulge for a day.  Make him some kind of a dessert. Now you can do all kinds of desserts, but I think this Giant Oreo Cookie Cake should do in a pinch.  I think it’s doubly cool if your Dad was the one who taught you to dunk Oreo Cookies.  So don’t forget the milk.

5) Our Dad’s Teach Us What It’s Like To Handle Pressure –  (Pressure Cooker)

Dads teach us every day how to handle pressure in our lives.  Dads have a lot of practice learning to balance various aspects of their lives.  He has to know what he can and can’t do when he gets home.  All of the stress from work he needs to leave at his work so that he can deal with all of the challenges of home life.

And, what we don’t think often as children, Dads have to make sure that all of the stresses they get at home do follow them to work.  As a Dad, I cannot be angry at my daughter because some person I was working with at work was backstabbing me.  It’s not her fault.  Likewise, I cannot yell at my coworker about dealing with a patron when I’m really stressed because my daughter is sick and in bed at home.  Dad’s have to live these dual lives and it’s not easy.

So we should get something to help them deal with all of that pressure.  I know I thought about an air pump or a pressure gage but those are other good car things.  And I wanted to be original.  Dad’s like gadgets.  And gadgets in the kitchen were things my dad loved.  So why not get them something amazing like a pressure cooker.  It cooks things in half or a quarter of the time as everything else.  Want cooking done quickly?  This does the trick.

4) Our Dads Teach Us How To Stand Up To Bullies – (Take Them To A Sporting Event)

Dad’s teach us how to handle the bullies in our lives.  And bullies always come around.  Dads teach us how to handle when these bullies come around. They teach us when it is appropriate to fight and stand up for ourselves.  And they teach us when to back down and when it’s not worth it to confront someone else.  They also teach us to never quit on ourselves or allow ourselves to be run over by these people.

Cheer on your favorite knight! Ours won!!!

So for the dad who has taught us to handle the bullies in our lives, we should take them to a sporting event.  It’s a little late in the year to take your dad to a basketball game.  But a good boxing match, soccer match or a baseball game should do the trick.  Both are excellent things that deal with fair play and standing up for yourself.

3) Our Dads Teach Us About Responsibility – (Pay For A Getaway On Groupon)

Dads are the one’s who have to live responsibly day after day.  They have to take responsibility for the decisions that they make. And they ultimately are our role models for living responsibly in our own life.  They teach us how to own up to our decisions.  And they teach us how to live with our mistakes without blaming others for what happened to us.  So when we do something wrong they teach us to own up to what we did.  They show us that by living honestly we live happier lives.

So what should we be doing for this Dad?  Allow them to be free from responsibility for a day.  This can mean something as simply as a date night with your mother. Or it can mean getting them something where they get to go away for a while.  Groupon has so many different getaways on sale.  They always have amazing sales.  I always forget about this when looking for something.  I should remember more often.  So take a look at some of those and get something for your Dad that allows him to be irresponsible for a change.

2) Our Dads Teach Us To Be Selfless – (Rocking)

In our lives it’s easy to be selfish.  “These are our toys.”  “That car belongs to me.”  “This food came from my garden.”  And keeping up with the Joneses only exists because of our jealousy of others and our preoccupation with making sure we get ours in the interest of “fairness.”  But who wants to live around people that are only interested in getting things for themselves?  Life is so much more than that.  Our Dads teach us to live selflessly.

This means on the night that he works overtime for hours and can’t get home til 9 at night he still puts you to bed before staying up another 3 hours working on projects.  Or he comes home and gives your mother a massage for taking care of the children all day even though he can barely stand or keep a straight thought in his head.  The example he sets models for us what it means to be a good person.

So let’s give this Dad the opportunity to be selfish for a day.  For children, give your dad a coupon book for hugs, helping out with projects, and things like teaching him how to use some computer program or phone app.  But if your Dad is a little older or you have a bit more money, get him something like this rocker.  It will allow him to be lazy and watch a sunset every now and then.  It’s wonderful to be selfless, but you have to have a selfish day every once in a while.  Let him take one of those on a rocker.  He will love it.

1) Our Dads Teach Us How To Love Unconditionally- (Romantic Dinner)

Our Dads show us what it means to love and love unconditionally.  This means they teach us what it means to show physical love.  But they also show us how we should be respected by those we date.  Or for men, They show how we should respect the woman that we go out with.  They show us our value rests in who we are, not what we do.

This is the love we should be seeking from someone else.  This someone should love us without regard to what we do, but simply because of who we are.  So often we pretend that love is about what someone does for us.  It’s not like that.  Love does not seek its own.  It bears all things. Dads teach us how to love, and how to see our value.

So for the Dad who teaches about love, this Father’s Day, I would make sure he had an awesome date night.  Now if your dad is a single dad like me, maybe date night is with you and your dad.  Or you make sure that if he is just starting to date someone, get him some time alone and make sure that he takes his date to a nice dinner.  (Sometimes Dads are really bad at picking romantic places.  And sometimes they don’t know what to wear.  So help him there too.)  If your mom and dad are still together,  get them reservations at some lovely romantic venue where they get some time to be alone.  Give him a chance to love his spouse, and for her to love him.

There are a million more things your Dad teaches you.  And there are a million ways that you can celebrate that.  I always love a good BBQ.  Maybe you do get him that recipe book. And you allow him to teach you how to BBQ.  Even if you are 45, I bet your Dad loves knowing that he can still teach you something.  So what are you going to do for Father’s Day?  What did you think of this Father’s Day Guide? And which of these gifts sounds the most interesting to you?  Just one more week to go.  Better decide quickly.

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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life