Tips For Making Father's Day Memorable and Meaningful

Dad and sonMadison, Wisconsin - Fatherhood is perhaps the most important job that any man has.


A strong father-child relationship is central to the emotional and intellectual growth of children, creating self-esteem, confidence, security, and the ability to maintain strong, fulfilling social relationships later in life.


Father's Day is an opportunity to strengthen the important bond between a father and child across the lifespan.


UW Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain offers these useful suggestions for making this Father's Day a memorable and meaningful one:


Be present and listen: The greatest gift you can give is your own time and attention. Turn off cell phones, distractions and just be in the moment together, you don't have to fix or accomplish anything. Think about doing this for a good half an hour whenever you can. Take an interest in their hobbies and passions. Ask questions about their activities. Ask them to teach you something they feel a sense of mastery over. Discussing their interests allows you to enter into their world and is very affirming to the other person. If your daughter is passionate about dance, ask her to show you some moves. If your aging father is interested in sporting events, relax together and watch a game on TV.


Focus on the positive: Remember to reinforce positive behaviors that your child or aging father does, no matter how small, and then tell them you appreciate it. We all respond best to positivity and we are most likely to change our behavior if we know that we will be rewarded for it versus criticized for it. What you pay attention to will strengthen. Let your children know your expectations and then reinforce them when they act accordingly.


Develop common interests: Make it a priority to spend one-on-one time together developing common interests. This communicates that your child or your aging father is important enough for you to commit time in your schedule and say "it's just you and me." Seek out activities or develop hobbies together that you'd both enjoy, where you can just have fun, laugh together and build upon. These activities help you bond, build a lifetime of memories and draw you closer together.


Keep communicating: Change begins inward and then extends outward. In order to have a close connection, you have to keep communicating. You have to be willing to go beyond the everyday ordinary interactions and address the tough issues. Maybe it's initiating a discussion with your child about your beliefs and behaviors kids are getting into. Maybe it's addressing a problematic behavior in your child in a calm way. Perhaps it's asking questions about your aging father's life and his perspective, processing some difficult things that happened while growing up, or sharing your experience and their take on what happened. Or, on the other side, maybe it means expressing love and appreciation and saying "I love you" if that's not the norm. These discussions keep the lines of communication open.


On this Father's Day, remember that just being there and getting involved is the best way to communicate that the other person is loveable, good enough and able to contribute in a positive way.

Date Published: 06/12/2014

News tag(s):  shilagh a mirgain

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