by Todd Patkin
On Sunday, June 16, otherwise known as Father's Day, dads around America will receive ties, tools, and other "toys" from their children. Sure, those gifts (as well as cards, visits, and family meals) are a great way to let Pops know that you love him and that you're glad he's part of your life. But as you and he get older, there's an even better way to honor your dad on Father's Day: Tell him thank you and mean it.
All parents are different, but one thing they have in common is that they want the best for their children. As a father myself, I can tell you that while we all make mistakes from time to time, we genuinely do our best to help our kids to be capable, responsible, and fulfilled adults.
Because our parents tend to be such constant presences in our lives, we often take them - and everything they've done for us - for granted. Father's Day is the perfect time to think about all of the ways in which your dad has impacted your life, and, hopefully, give him the gift of heartfelt thanks.
In my book, "Finding Happiness: One Man's Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and - Finally - Let the Sunshine In," I acknowledge that, stereotypically speaking, men aren't supposed to be very "touchy-feely." But I promise you, when it comes to your kids, all of those rules go out the window. I cherish every "I love you," "thanks," and genuine smile I've ever gotten from my son. It's incredibly heartwarming and fulfilling to hear directly from your child that he or she thinks you've done a good job as a parent.
Here, I share 11 thank-yous that might just make your own dad's Father's Day perfect:
•Thank you for almost always making time to come to my games, concerts, and awards ceremonies. I know you were under pressure and busy a lot of the time, so your priorities taught me that family and relationships are always more important than work and outside achievements.
•Thank you for supporting me when I decided I'd rather be in the school band than play basketball. The fact that you clapped loudest at our concert let me know unequivocally that you love me for who I am - especially since you were the star point guard during your own high school days!
•Thank you for making me help with yard work and home improvement projects on the weekends. I may not have enjoyed it at the time, but you taught me the value of hard work. Because of you, I take pride in a job well done, no matter how large or small!
•Thank you for teaching me to ride a bike, and especially for encouraging me to get back up and try again when I fell. I learned that persistence and practice pay off, and that the results can be fantastic!
•Thank you for coaching my YMCA sports teams. You showed me what good sportsmanship looks like and taught me why it's important to shake hands after every game, even if we lost! In all aspects of my adult life, I know how to lose (and win!) with grace because of you, Dad. And even though I've aged out of Little League, I also exercise on a regular basis and try to stay physically fit.
•Thank you for disciplining me and telling me why you were disappointed. I certainly didn't enjoy being punished, but now I have a strong set of core values and a firm sense of right and wrong.
•Thank you for teaching me how to drive and for remaining patient throughout the process - I know I wasn't always the nicest student. Now I can merge, parallel park, and back up like a pro. (But I'm still trying to beat your least-number-of-stops-on-the-way-to-the-beach record!)
•Thank you for showing me that there's a difference between being aggressively confrontational and being politely firm. Because of you I stick to my convictions and don't let others take advantage of me, while remaining respectful.
•Thank you for making executive decisions on everything from where to eat dinner to when to leave the neighbors' holiday party to which movie to watch on family night. These examples may seem insignificant, but over the years you taught me the value of knowing your mind and acting decisively. You saved me a lot of waffling, hemming, and hawing!
•Thank you for always treating Mom with respect, patience, love, and sometimes a little mischievousness. You taught me how to treat someone you love and what a strong marriage looks like. Now I have a great relationship - and a lot of fun - with my own partner.
And for men specifically, I suggest this acknowledgment:
•Thank you for teaching me the "essentials," like how to tie a tie, iron a crease into slacks, shine my shoes, and shave. While I might not put all of those skills to use every day, I always take pride in my appearance ... and I think I do "clean up" nicely!
Whether you write your own personalized thank-yous in a card or share them with your dad in person, you can rest assured that this will be a Father's Day he'll remember forever.