When fathers are young, families spend Father’s Day honoring Dad’s strength as a provider and protector. A classic Father’s Day celebration includes Dad grilling out in the backyard or perhaps trying out a new tool while kids play merrily in the yard or pool and Mom makes a special salad and dessert. As fathers become older, however, celebrations may center more around their stability and wisdom. Finding meaningful ways to honor them can become a challenge when their strength has faded and a new tool for the yard (or even a new tie for the wardrobe) is no longer a practical gift. Here are some of the most common challenges, along with creative solutions, to tell an aging father he is loved on Father’s Day.
Older Dads in Today’s World
Today, senior dads are mostly from the Baby Boomer generation, a generation that still prides itself on its ability to provide materially to ensure surival, protection of, and responsiblity toward the young, says Kit Yarrow in Psychology Today. By contrast, dads who are rearing young children now play a much more intimate and involved role in childrearing than did Boomer generation dads. Modern day dads are more involved with the day to day aspects of raising children. They typically have more fun with their kids and are more playful.This may present a challenge in the way gratitude is expressed to a more stoic Boomer dad.
Yet there may be more similarities between what dads of yesteryear and dads of today want. According to a Pew Research Center report, some 30% of men over the age of 65 say that one of the benefits of growing older is having more time to spend with family; another 25% value time spent with family with particular emphasis on time spent with grandchildren. The gift of time spent together is irreplaceable.
What is more, spending time with Dad on Father’s Day is a good way to check in on him and make sure he is doing all right. Senior citizens face many challenges. Often times, seniors are living in homes that need better accessibility features to make daily life safer and more enjoyable. If Dad lives on his own, Father’s Day is an ideal time to visit and see what he might need to make his golden years more comfortable. Thus, by being present this Father’s day, adult children are not only spending time with Dad, which is something many dads treasure; they are also helping him stay secure, which is something adult children value highly: the peace of mind of knowing Dad is safe.
Dads Still Like Tools
Dad may not be able to wield a chainsaw or fix that leaky faucet with a wrench, but he may still like tools. Working together on a project around the home is a great way to get Dad involved in maintaining his home, updating its age-friendly features, and spending quality time all at once. Maybe it’s time to install the shower grab bars or put in the ramp for the backyard porch so Dad can enjoy time outside. It may not seem like much compared to the good old days of buying Dad a drill with multiple attachments, but a grab bar and ramp are tools for him to utilize and will make a big difference in his quality of life and safety on a day to day basis. Plus, every time he uses it Dad will remember the time taken by busy adult children to come help him out.
Independent living aids are practical tools for senior dads. For example, there are talking calculators that will help Dad work out his budget. Another gift idea is a Kindle. Kindles are relatively inexpensive as far as tablets go, and newer models come with audiobook capability so Dad can enjoy both new releases and classics. There are even hands-free tablet stands that can make it easier to access if Dad has Parkinson’s or arthritis.
Matt Schultz, writing in U.S News and World Report, suggests getting an aged dad his credit report this year. Such a gift may not have much of awow factor, but it is a good idea to check it regularly in order to monitor for identity theft. Helping Dad avoid the hassles and stress of identity theft, as well as zeroing in on any mistaken information that may be affecting his score, is a gift indeed.
When a aged dad tells his adult children he doesn’t need anything, he is probably right. He probably has most everything he needs. Yet what he really means is that the most important thing to him is not something new; he means that he treasures his relationships and time spent with relatives above the material gifts of the past. If Dad is hundreds of miles away, adult children do well to call or plan ahead to Skype or use others means for some quality interaction. Add in a unique and practical gift that resembles a tool, and Dad will have a great memory for all the Father’s Days to come.
Pew Research Center. (June 29, 2009). Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality. Available at http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2009/06/29/growing-old-in-america-expectations-vs-reality/. Last Visited June 7, 2016.
Schultz, Matt. (June 1, 2015). 6 Inexpensive Father’s Day Gifts Your Dad Will Appreciate. U.S. News & World Report. Available at http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2015/06/01/6-inexpensive-fathers-day-gifts-your-dad-will-appreciate. Last Visited June 8, 2016.
Yarrow, Kit. (June 18, 2015). Fatherhood has Changed, Father’s Day Needs an Upgrade. Psychology Today. Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-why-behind-the-buy/201506/fatherhood-has-changed-fathers-day-needs-upgrade. Last Visited June 7, 2016.