Are you wondering about an appropriate gift for Father's Day? I have two ideas, both of which are absolutely free. The first is a specific gift for a specific category of dads. The second idea is more general, and is appropriate for a broad range of fathers.
The first free gift is a booklet called "The Daddy Book: A Guide for New Fathers." Distributed by the Brainerd Lakes Area Early Childhood Coalition (BLAECC), "The Daddy Book" is for first-time fathers. Because many men come to fathering with little knowledge of or experience with infants, being a first time father can be a daunting experience. Written to a male perspective, this booklet contains information on infant development, safety, toys to make, games to play, and parenting tips. It is well organized and easy to read, and will help new dads understand and bond with their new baby.
The BLAECC is distributing "The Daddy Book" because research shows that if a father becomes involved with a child as an infant, he will stay positively involved with that child, regardless of what happens in the relationship with the child's mother. This father involvement predicts good things for children, like success in school, positive social skills, and being a contributor in the work place. Children of involved fathers are also less likely to need taxpayer funded services such as special education, welfare, or prison.
If you know someone who is a new dad,"Daddy Books" are available through St. Joseph's Medical Center, Brainerd Medical Center, various social service and education agencies, or by calling 454-5430.
For all those other men who are not new dads, here is my gift idea. In its simplest form it is to spend some time with dads and show interest in their lives and experiences as fathers. Ask them to tell you their story. As the gift giver/story seeker, you may need to modify or eliminate some of the following questions, but here's my list for getting stories from fathers.
What are some of your earliest memories of childhood? Who did you play with and what did you play? What chores did you do? What do you remember about school? Were you in sports or other school or church activities? As a young adult, what kinds of work did you do? Were there any major social events (i.e. the Depression, wars) that had a major effect on your life? How so? Tell what you remember about the birth of your children. How did life change for you after the children were born? What was the hardest part of being a father? What was the most rewarding?
What values do you think you learned from your own father and family? What values did you try to teach your children? If there was anything you could change about the family you grew up in, or the family you raised, what would it be? Why?
Happy Fathers Day!
LOWELL JOHNSON works with the Father Involvement Team of the Brainerd Lakes Area Early Childhood Coalition.
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