As a former nursery school teacher, I know you’ll be getting a lot of decorated rock paper weights, ties and t-shirts painted with hand and foot prints, or other memorabilia that will warm your hearts, that you’ll take to the office for all your associates to appreciate.
Yes, dads today have more than just nice framed family portraits sitting on their credenzas. They have poems and pictures covering their desks and cubicle walls. They have kiddie photos as their screen savers, proudly humanizing them and crying out, “I am a dad, I adore my kids and I don’t care who knows it!”
Fatherhood has changed a lot in the past two decades, and yet it doesn’t seem to be trending as a topic enough for my liking. Sure, there are some daddy bloggers and some new cool dad book titles on the shelves, but overall: under-represention! I think we need to crack this topic open and give it its due attention and coverage.
I am thrilled that so many dads take my workshops. In fact, I have had some sessions with more dads enrolled than moms. From conversations with my dad clients, I have compiled an unscientifically researched “wish list” of what dads really want. Chime in, dads, if you agree–or if I have more to add to the list:
1) Sex – I know, I know…. I am not being sexist. I am being a realist and a therapist. I don’t just mean that moms should put out some special nooky on Father’s Day, either. I mean, men need carnal activities the way women need conversations and cuddles. It’s not “base” or single-mindedness. It’s being a man. Women should feel like making love to their man, and if they don’t, something’s up. Why not check out why instead of tolerating it? Don’t settle for a poor or incompatible sex life. Decide to make it wonderful for you both. How’s that for a Father’s Day gift, guys?
2) Provide and Protect – Men often have a different “love language,” and would like to be recognized for the work and salaries they do in the name of supporting the family. Often they get slagged for being workaholics or for not being around enough for the family. Men feel they are busting a gut FOR their family. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge and appreciate this form of showing love.
(Research does show that if both partners feel a sense of equanimity in the division of labor and the intimacy is good, then chances are your marriage will be strong and long).
3) Do It Their Own Way – Dads like being dads and truly want to be involved in the parenting and engage with their children, but they would like to do it their own way, free of judgment and criticism. Children enjoy the personalities and style differences of their parents. They know how each of their parents makes fun and handles life. You don’t confuse them when you go about your life authentically. Dads want to be more themselves, doing things their way, and not worrying about being on the same page and “doing it right” or “like mom does.”
4) Downtime – Dads know how to do self-care. It is not them being lazy. Dads have no guilt hitting the golf course, or watching the game on Sunday afternoon. Moms should watch and learn from their good role modeling instead of berating them about it. Pull up a chair and join dad while he relaxes, or ask dad to reciprocate in kindness by watching the kids while their partner gets a pedicure or something else they enjoy.
How did I do, guys? You got more to add? I know… let me guess: like say it in less words? More bullet points? Quicker to the content? Gender difference are interesting, and I say vive la difference.