This piece originally appeared for the Father’s Day special of Manila Bulletin’s Mom’s and Babies section.
In the grand scheme of things, it usually seems like Father’s Day is relegated as a second-class holiday compared to Mother’s Day. Maybe it’s because fathers are more subtle, more silent than expressive and default to the “if you’re happy then I’m happy” state of being.
It is Father’s Day. And as the shops pull out their specials for new shoes, watches, and wallets for dads not much has been said for what a father really wants on his commercially-imposed holiday. “I don’t need anything” is a typical response from most dads. But they’re usually referring to material things.
Here are three things that dads want that money can not buy on their special day.
They want a day where they do not need to make choices
Luxury is relative, and in an age where we have too many choices, the best gift one can give is not having to make decisions. Decisions are made seven days a week, 365 days a year. At work. At home. “What do you think?” can always be a loaded question. When dads are forced to make decisions every hour of the day, the best Father’s Day gift you can give him is to not have him make decisions. At least for the next 24 hours.
They (secretly) want kind words of acknowledgment
Fathers are men of few words. Case in point: I’ve learned how to modulate my grunting to express different things. There is a subtlety in a grunt of acknowledgment versus reproach. But despite being men of few words, it does not mean we can not appreciate words of kindness. I remember, during our pre-Cana seminar, the priest was talking about how knowing your partner’s language of love is important. One of these languages – “the words of affirmation” is really the easiest to give, yet often not given, because people underestimate their power. There is a stigma for assuming men are too hardened for words, but deep inside the simplicity of a few kind words from your spouse and children can make your day—and acknowledge it with a grunt.
They want a moment to reflect on their legacy
I revel in being an idealist, despite how the modern world has turned out. But as they say, shoot for the stars so you get the moon. This is how I picture the ideal Father’s Day meal: together with family, having the best seat in the house so I can see everyone—wife, kids, relatives and other loved ones. It puts into perspective why we toil. Why we work late hours. Why we try to squeeze in the 20 minutes of quality time with the kids before they sleep. It is a safety stop that pulls us away. Then we can see, perhaps once a year, our lives as fathers in a single snapshot and ask ourselves why we do the things we do. It puts into perspective the daily agonies and ecstasies that life throws at us, and ultimately having your brood in front of you, all seated, eating, loud and happy makes for the perfect day.