What Matters Most? – A Father Style Guide To Father’s Day

One thing I like about Father’s Day is how low-stakes it is.

Mother’s Day is high stakes. You NEED to step up and at least attempt to hit it out of the park on Mother’s Day. If you’re married, Mother’s Day should be all about your wife. A gift (or two), quality time, alone time (for her), and all-around relaxation (again… for her) are all on YOU to provide for HER on Mother’s Day.

Whether or not your wife has a good Mother’s Day is entirely in your hands.

Father’s Day isn’t like that. Of course, it’s ostensibly YOUR day which obviously takes the heat off. Father’s Day should be a day when your wife tries her best to make the day great for you, just like you did for her.

Your only real responsibility on Father’s Day is to your own dad.

As dads, we know that we don’t require much on days like Father’s Day. A little peace and quiet and having our family remind us that they love us is all we really need. Even though we know that, we still might get sucked down the internet rabbit-hole of reading “Father’s Day Gift Guides”. Those guides will give a rundown of all the run-of-the-mill “guy” gifts.

Slippers, ties, bottles of whiskey. You know the drill.

The advice in articles like those isn’t necessarily wrong (all those items make wonderful gifts), it just misses the mark, slightly.

On Father’s Day, if you really want to make an impact on your dad, you need to really think about what’s most important to dads. It shouldn’t be too hard. After all, you’re a dad yourself.

What’s most important to you? What do you want the most (beyond health and happiness for your family, obviously)?

I can tell you what is the most important thing to me.

I want to matter

I want to matter to my children. And when I’m gone, I want to HAVE mattered to them.

I want to know that my advice was, if not followed, at least considered. I want to know that they remember stories I once told. I want them to remember the hat or watch I always wore. I want them to say “Well, my dad always used to say…”

I want them to know that I work hard. I want them to know that I love them.

If I could magically give them the best lives of anyone who ever lived, but it would mean they would never remember me, then I would do it in a heartbeat. But since that’s impossible, I selfishly want to be a big deal to them.

I want to be their superhero. I want them to look up to me. I want them to come to me with their problems. Right now, those problems are scraped knees and arguments over who is playing with what toy. But they’ll soon have questions about girls, jobs, money, marriage, and kids of their own.

It’s a tragic thing to have no one come to you for anything, but paradoxically, that’s what we strive for. The goal is to equip our kids with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate life. If they don’t come to you with their questions, doesn’t that mean you did a bang-up job?


But I still want them to come to me.

I want them to need me. I want them to feel like all will be right once they have a good ‘ol chat with Dad.

So, how do you help remind your dad that he matters to you? Well, you can obviously get him a gift, which I am sure he will appreciate. But do it a little differently than usual.

Buy him a baseball cap of his favorite team and take him to a ballgame. Then take a bunch of pictures, write “I love you, Dad!” on one of them, frame it, and give it to him. Hang a copy of that same picture in your house.

Take him on a weekend camping trip and bring along the old folding knife he bought you when you were twelve. Afterwards, let him know that every time you use it, you think of him and the deep conversations you shared by the campfire.

Buy two sets of matching cufflinks, give one to him, and then take him out to a nice steak dinner. Make sure you both wear the new cufflinks.

Scenarios like these will help build memories with your dad. Every time he looks at his hat, picture, or cufflinks, he will remember the wonderful days he spent with you.

More importantly, he will know that every time YOU look at your picture or links, you will remember HIM!

And THAT’S how you’re going to crush Father’s Day this year. You’ll create for your dad the assurance that he matters in your life. He will know that you think about him every day.

I often wonder if this is what mattered most to my dad. I don’t know. I didn’t know him well enough and he died before I could have these kinds of grown-up conversations.

And that’s the sad part of Father’s Day for me. My dad isn’t around for me to tell him how much he matters to me.

My sons sometimes ask me about complex subjects like death and they’ll ask questions about if people can love forever. I try not to confuse them about the permanence of death, so I’ll tell them that even though the person is gone and cannot come back to life, we can still feel the love they had for us while they were living. And that that love doesn’t go away. So, if someone loved us a great deal when they were alive, we can always remember and feel their love even long after they’re gone.

And that’s how I feel about my dad. I’ve always said that for all my dad’s warts, I never doubted how much he loved my sisters and me. I just wish he could have shown it in a more obvious and conventional way.

I wish I could tell my dad that he mattered to me. I wish I could tell him that I now pass along, to my sons, his advice for fielding grounders or catching footballs. I wish I could tell him that my son loves reading and learning about history, just like him.

I wonder if my dad ever felt like he mattered to us. I’m not sure he possessed that kind of introspection. I wish he was around long enough for us to talk about it. I feel like I could actually help illuminate some of his own feelings on fatherhood that he wasn’t able to see for himself.

That’s a common thread for children of parents with addiction, though: always feeling like maybe you could have done more. Like you didn’t really do enough while that person was still around and always wishing you could have.

I guess that’s why I’m so proactive about passing these thoughts on to my children and to all of you who read this site. I recognize a vacancy in my heart that I’m trying to fill somehow.

This Father’s Day, if you have a healthy relationship with your dad, let him know how much he matters to you. If you don’t have a good relationship with your dad or if your dad isn’t around anymore, let your father-in-law know, or any other man in your life who has kids and is trying his best to be the best dad he can be.

And for you, trust me… you matter to your kids. You matter a great deal. You’re one half of the most important, impactful duo your kids will ever know. It’s impossible to overstate how much you matter.

You might not ever hear them say it, but just keep your antennae up and you’ll notice it. Every hug, every smile, every “I love you, Daddy”, every time they come to you with tears in their eyes they’re saying it.

There will come a time when they’ll need to feel it from their own kids. Luckily, they’ll have you there to let them know that they don’t have anything to worry about.

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