Ah, Father's Day. Or as I like to call it: "Mother's Day Payback," which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how well you handled Mother's Day. Just kidding, dads! We're happy to give y'all a special shout out every third Sunday in June. However, since the vast majority of dads are men and most men are encouraged not to express themselves emotionally, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how to celebrate them (and what to get them) for their special day. So I decided to find out what dads really want for Father's Day by asking... wait for it... actual dads!
The common thread among the papas I talked to? They don't want much. In fact, it was actually charming how much they really did not want. Main themes included some form of acknowledgment and a decent meal. Another big theme was "experiences" over "things." It was actually remarkably similar to when I talked with moms about how they wanted to spend Mother's Day.
So, if you're looking for a big rundown of big ticket items to pick up for your dad on your way to their house on June 16 (I'm helping you out here, people: that's when Father's Day in 2019 is happening), this ain't it. Because the fathers I talked to are generally interested in a much simpler, quieter life... except for the guy I talked to who wanted to drive a race car.
"A text from my sons wishing me a happy Father's Day. Then I'd like them to enjoy their Sunday as they wish. The marketing of these silly days is relentless."
"I dislike Father's Day as a commercial holiday where you have to give gifts or dad gets to go somewhere or do something he wants away from the family. Seems counter to the spirit of the day. A little pampering (sleeping in, dinner I like) is fine, but beyond that I want to spend the day celebrating by actually being a father."
"A day on the racetrack, either doing small events, or hot laps, or just hazardous weather driving."
"I'd like to be the guy who says he just wants to spend time with his wife and kids, but I'm greedy. I really want a new TV. I told [my wife] exactly which one I want. It's a big gift, but it's something the whole family can enjoy. It's coming the Friday before Father's Day, but I reserve the right to exclusive access to the remote that Sunday."
"To sleep in."
"I'd like a slow lunch, preferably somewhere outdoors. If there must be presents, let them be something edible to share, or money for French lessons. It's a gorgeous language! I'm learning from scratch along with my eldest son, so it's partly for me, partly to share, and partly to be good role model for language learning."
"A day to see superhero movies in the theater without having to take anyone for bathroom break and snack refills."
"What I really want for Father’s Day most is for my kids to get along all day long. I don’t need any big gift, I don’t need to be totally freed of my regular responsibilities, either — I’m happy to pull my weight and everything. If they would just abstain from the typical sibling bickering and poking for 24 hours, that would be present enough. This is certainly not to say that they are persistent menaces to each other. They love each other quite a lot! And it’s not every day that you need to hit them with a ‘JUST LOVE EACH OTHER!’ but when they’re torturing each other just for the sake of it, it’s wildly frustrating, and knowing for absolute certain that I was getting a day free of that? Ahhhhhhhh."
"Breakfast with the family, an alcoholic beverage at night, and silly socks."
"Honestly, I really don’t want anything for Father’s Day and I’ve told my children such. I don’t want them to spend money I earned on things for me, and, honestly, for the same reason I don’t espouse my love for my wife on Facebook on a regular basis: because I am comfortable enough with my relationship with them that I don’t need the validation. I would rather just be able to sleep in, which my body won't let me do anyway. Plus this year I’m going to concerts on Friday and Saturday so I’ll be exhausted and have spent too much money so don’t spend money on me. Just let me sleep."
"I'd love to spend the day at a music festival with my family. It's relaxed, there are tons of families there if you go to the right kinds of festivals, and it's outdoors, so we can just sit on the lawn where all the other uncool parents are and let them run around without bothering anyone. We have headphones for the baby."
"It's kind of corny but I don't really want anything specific for Father's Day. I prefer, in general, to give gifts than to receive them. If I get bacon with my breakfast and something yummy that I like for dinner I am happy at the end of the day."
"Just to be left alone."