A Father’s Day Lesson
By Diane Markins
While Mother’s Day is a day to sit back and enjoy the attention of our kids and husband, Father’s Day is an opportunity to teach our children a great character lesson. Although we give gifts for Christmas and birthdays, Father’s Day is a great time of the year we can help our little ones learn generosity, intimate consideration and what it means to honor their father.
As children begin to grasp the concept of gift-giving and celebrations, it’s easy to recruit them into the process. But rather than just saying, “Let’s go shop for Daddy’s present” or “Let’s make Daddy a card,” this is a natural opportunity to foster insight and growth.
Begin with a discussion of what it means to honor someone. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines honor as “respectful regard” or esteem. Some other words that elicit a similar connotation include appreciate, praise and show affection. Using these words as a launching pad, talk about why it’s important to honor Dad. Maybe share a story about a time you have felt honored by your child or how you honored your father in a special way. Ask if they’ve ever felt honored.
Next, in kid-speak, talk about recognizing Daddy’s “love language” as Gary Chapman defines them. Since this day is meant to be special and enjoyable for Dad, what are his favorite things? Does Daddy love it when you thank him for working so hard to fix your broken game? How about just sitting and watching a funny movie or walking the dog together … would spending time with you would make him smile? Can you think of something he’d really like to have … a biography on his favorite sports star or a special cloth to wash his car? How about if you sweep the patio so he doesn’t have to? Or would his favorite gift be a coupon for a hundred hugs and fifty kisses?
This exercise can be a great tool to demonstrate that consideration and thoughtfulness lead to a more intimate relationship. To be loved, we have to be known. Don’t just give a gift –give something meaningful that shows you know him.
Last, in an effort to teach generosity, allow the child to do chores to earn money to spend on the gift, do the act of service himself, or in some way make this present sacrificial. When we give something up for a loved one, the gift feels bigger to us, the giver!
Of course, Dad is in on the secret lesson and will reaffirm the intimacy, generosity and how wonderful it is to be honored by his children. And, although he really likes that orange tie with pink boats from last year, and the fire-engine-red macaroni-encrusted pencil holder, it is likely that he will sincerely appreciate the new approach.
Hopefully, this lesson will be like washing your hair; rinse “and repeat.” It will be an easy transition to teach your child to follow these same steps when it comes time to show love or appreciation for anyone. You may even get a special thank you gift one day from the lucky person who marries the thoughtful child you’ve raised.