You can make your husband a better dad.
First, merry Christmas. On behalf of dads everywhere, thanks for all you do all year long. I hope your husband effectively shows his appreciation.
Second, here are a few last-minute gifts for your children’s dad that let him know you’re on his side and rooting for him. All of them are available at Target, Walmart, or some other favorite store. And none of them break the budget.
(Full disclosure: This blogpost is excerpted in part from Chapter 16 of my book, Moms Bringing Out the Best in Dads, which is a great gift for yourself anytime.)
Dad joke books. In the last few years, the idea of “dad jokes” has progressed from a cause for groaning to a cause for celebration. Here are a few good ones that even kindergartners will get.
What did one tree say to the other tree?
Leaf me alone.
What are two things you can never have for breakfast?
Lunch and dinner.
What’s gray and has four legs and a trunk?
A mouse on vacation.
What’s the best thing to put into a pizza?
Pack of inflating needles. It will happen. Your children will find themselves with a group of friends eager to compete but stuck with a deflated basketball, football, volleyball, or soccer ball. If you’ve equipped your husband with a one-and-a-half-inch inflating needle, you’ve also equipped him to rescue the day. Just tell your children, “I think your father may be able to help.” And then watch your husband fish that must-have device out of his desk drawer or the jar on his workbench and become an instant hero.
Sidewalk chalk. Give him a box of colorful sidewalk chalk and on the next warm day (because he’s a sharp guy) he’ll know what to do. He’ll head outside and start drawing on the driveway. When the kids see that rainbow, four-square box, or hopscotch path, they’ll run right out and join him. If you’re equally inspired, you could lie flat on the driveway and have him outline you in chalk.
Can of tennis balls. You may think your 12-year-old son wants to play video games all day long—but really he’d rather spend time with his dad. Shooting hoops, playing a round of golf, taking swings in the local batting cage, or playing a game of tennis may not prompt him to open up suddenly about his deepest feelings or life goals, but it will get him to put down his controller or joystick for an afternoon.
Chewing gum. I include this as an essential item for all dads because my dad always carried a pack of gum in his pocket. He’d offer me some, and I’d almost always accept. A few times when I was in a cruddy teenage mood, I’d ignore his offer even if I wanted the gum. All kids can have moments or seasons like that. But don’t let that stop you from equipping your husbands with a few packs of gum.
White handkerchief. I carry one all the time. I have for years. It’s incredible how often a clean hanky comes in handy. From wiping baby drool off a sport coat. To drying tears at your son or daughter’s wedding. To signaling surrender when he realizes he’s losing an argument.
Waffle iron. This fathering tool is a metaphor for a much larger idea. Dads need to establish regular opportunities to share their faith with their children. For some reason, when I read Deuteronomy, chapter 6, I usually imagine a dad chatting with his kids over freshly made waffles. Other times, I recall conversations while watching TV with my kids, taking walks together, or tucking them in. How do you read the passage?
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Mom, you know your husband and kids better than anyone on the planet. Pause for just a moment and consider what small item might prompt a new connection or make a new memory.
If you’ve already done all your Christmas shopping, keep this list and idea handy for any random occasion. Encouraging your husband in his role as “dad” is always win-win-win.