It’s hard to buy for Dads when Father’s Day comes around. Ask most Dads what they want, and they’ll say “I don’t need anything,” or “you don’t have to buy me anything,” or even worse, “just surprise me.” So we buy a tie, or a sweater, a box of golf balls, or a new electric drill, and they open it and pretend to be excited.

Not to sound sexist, but most men aren’t very good at expressing their needs. As counselors, we spend a great deal of time talking with couple and families, and while men tend to speak less than the women in their lives, we have noticed some common themes about what men really want.

Most of all, fathers want to feel that their role in the home is important. They like to feel important in their careers and want to know that they’re contributing to something important. The same is true when they come home at the end of the day. They want to be an important part of their family’s lives. If they feel pushed aside or that they’re really not needed, they’ll find other ways to feel the importance they crave. Maybe in ways that put distance between them and their wives and kids.

Fathers also want to feel that they’re respected by their wives and their children. They may not expect to be the “king of the castle,” but they do want a certain amount of leadership in the home. They want to be heard and have their opinions considered. If there’s a child-rearing issue and Mom brushes Dad’s thoughts or ideas aside, he’s going to be less likely to offer help in the future. If Mom insults Dad or puts him down in front of the kids, he’ll be less inclined to spend quality time with the them.

Dads know that they’re not perfect, but most constantly strive to be better. Unfortunately, they’re often at a loss about exactly what they should do, and women aren’t always very direct. Women typically provide hints and dance around subjects, when most men prefer direct communication. If you’re upset because he hasn’t been taking the trash out, say “please take the trash out every day,” rather than something vague like “You know, I could really use some more help around the house.”

So if you’re looking for the perfect gift for a Dad in your life, whether he’s your husband or your father, make sure he feels important, knows that he’s valued, can tell that you respect him, and feels appreciated for everything he does. It’s better than a tie or a sweater he won’t wear. And if the two of you could use a little help with communication, give us a call, and we’ll share some proven strategies.


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