Let’s face it. Moms get the better deal when it comes to gifts on their special day — to the retail tune of $21 billion. Father’s Day gifts ring up a mere $12 billion in sales, including those talking fish for the wall, value-packs of socks and ties only a politician would wear.
So don’t get a fitness tracker for the dad who has a symbiotic relationship with his remote control or designer shirts for the man who wears black socks with his sandals. And please don’t buy another tie for the father who thinks the man who invented the sartorial noose should have been hanged by it.
Turns out what fathers seem to really want is for their children to get to know them a little better. And a gift or gesture attuned to those cues is much appreciated, say those who will celebrate Father’s Day June 19.
“A grill set or a tie would not be for me,” says Brad Way, 56, a Baton Rouge real estate agent with three children ranging in age from 16 to 20. “I want to know that my children know who I am.”
And that is a man passionate about his mountain bike. The perfect gift for him? “A carbon fiber handlebar for my bike is at the top of my list,” he says.
But a gift tailored to him is not so much about the present but about his children’s attention to his interests — the proof that they know Dad well.
A Father’s Day gift, however, needn’t come with a price tag, says Way. “Having them help me with a household project would be great,” he says.
When asked what Father’s Day gifts he remembers giving his own father, Way recalled that he and his brother appreciated how much their dad loved sailboats, so they took him out for a guys’ night of sailing. And there was the time Way took his father to hear Frank Sinatra.
“You have to remove yourself from your own ideas of what you think your father wants and get into the person to see the things that bring him pleasure,” says Way.
Michael W. Victorian, 66, a salesman and president of 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, has three grown children, and he’s a grandfather. The Father’s Day gifts he has received indicate his kids know him well.
“I’ve gotten headsets and nice covers for my iPad, and they also know I like to cook, so I’ve gotten pots and stuff and aprons. Every gift has been a thoughtful one,” says Victorian, who welcomed his fourth grandchild into the world a couple of weeks ago. If he could have anything he wanted for Father’s Day?
“I want my family to have a peaceful world to live in, and I want the opportunity to see my children continue to succeed and for me to live long enough to see all my grandchildren grow up to prosper and have a peaceful life,” he says. “They can keep the socks and the ties.”
Fathers may be superheroes who excel in patriarchal skills, but never lose sight of the fact that dads are human, too. That’s the advice from a humorist.
“Advertisers would have you think that dads want power tools or a new grill, and every comedian in the world wants you to think that dads just want to be left alone, but this is what dads really want,” says college tutor and comedian Kenneth LaFrance, of New Orleans. The 50-year-old dad credits his 16-year-old son with opening up his world.
“Dads want our families to be safe. We want there to be more bacon left in the fridge. We wanna to look good in a suit. We wanna to turn left on Tulane Avenue — seriously anywhere on Tulane Avenue. We want to understand the infield fly rule. Someone please explain the infield fly rule. We want our significant other to pat us on our butt. We want the same things that moms want — except for a copy of ‘50 Shades of Grey.’ NO dad wants that. We had a meeting. It’s a consensus. Nobody wants that foolishness.”
Mike Strecker, 52, media director for Tulane University, says having children later in life has made him very sentimental about Father’s Day.
“Being a father wasn’t something I was sure I was going to experience,” says Strecker, who started a family in his late 40s and now has 6-year-old and 16-month-old sons.
“I happened to see a former classmate of mine on Facebook with a baby in his arms, and I remarked, ‘What do you know? Our kids are the same age.’ His friend replied, “What’s wrong with you, man? That’s my grandson.”
So, in short, Strecker will take the Hallmark sentiment of Father’s Day any day.
“Spending time with my wife and kids is great with me, man. If there’s some meat or barbecue, that’s fine,” says Strecker, who says the holiday for patriarchs simply makes him proud to be one.