What dads really want for Father's Day

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Dr. KAREN LATIMER

About a month ago, I did a post for Mother's Day on what moms really wanted. I asked a bunch of wonderful women, and their responses carried a recurring theme. They all wanted a break from being a mom, to have a day where they didn't have to discipline, referee, chauffeur or serve. Moms want a day to feel like the fun-loving, free-wheeling women they were before they had kids.

With Father's Day upon us, I set out to find what dads really want. I asked a bunch of great guys to tell me what they want on their special day. Once we got past sexual favors, which, not surprisingly, was the knee-jerk answer for 90% of them, it became clear they all want to be Mike Brady – who, being the first TV dad to share a bed with his wife, probably got some backstory action.

Dads want to experience fatherhood in the idealistic, old-fashioned way it was portrayed on the programming of their childhood. And, why wouldn't they? These shows, with women in aprons checking the roast in the oven, with well-behaved children quietly sitting at their father's knee while he enjoys a scotch and a cigar, made me want to be a father. Even at a young age, it was easy to see Mr. Howard Cunningham had a better gig than his wife.

Fast forward to the reality of 2015. Dads are more involved in family life than ever. They are still working hard trying to give their children a better life, but they are also sharing the housekeeping, proudly wearing baby Bjorns, stressing over homework and making dinner. They are coaching and driving and volunteering and stressing over the small details of parenting. I love the dads of today. To me a man with a diaper bag is far sexier than a man with a golf bag. But, for just this one day, fathers I spoke to want it old school. They want the freedom to do what they want and also be surrounded by adoring, happy children.

"I leave for work before they get up and get home an hour or two before they go to bed, so I want to spend day with them. BUT they can't be cranky, no crying and whining, and I don't want to change any diapers that day."

"Wake up at the regular time only to realize it's My Day and go back to sleep until 10. Get out of bed and parade around in in only boxer shorts like the stud I am. Head downstairs and be pleasantly surprised not to have the coffee grinds from yesterday still in the coffee maker."

"Wake up past 8am. Play 13 holes of golf with some buddies followed by lunch. Take an afternoon nap with no time restrictions with an ESPN classic college football game announced by Keith Jackson in the background, and no one in the house. No church. No mail. No e-mail. No news. No thoughts of work. Meet the family for dinner at Beach. Kids actually sit down for a whole dinner and Molly doesn't talk with food in her mouth, so Patrick does not get grossed out and has to eat a separate table. Stay at beach until sundown while my wife puts kids to bed. Come home after kids are in bed ..." I had to cut it off here for reasons you may be able to imagine.

"Morning round of golf with the boys ... late afternoon, watch the last hour of the U.S. Open with my kids nearby. So, to recap: Fathers Day = Golf."

"I hope everyone wishes me a Happy Father's Day without being reminded to do so. Small gifts are fine. I want a new grill brush, one that gets under the rack and cleans really well. Pancakes, eggs, warm seeded rolls, maybe even a powdered jelly donut for breakfast and a fun day where everyone gets along and no one has a soccer/softball/baseball game. I'd like to watch the last 9 holes of the US Open with Rory, Phil, and Tiger in contention."

"To me, it's a day of acknowledgement and appreciation. It is NOT a day of gift giving. My family is enough of a gift. Just say, 'Thanks.'"

"I don't need gifts, but if the kids want to get me something, I want it to be something they picked out -- thoughtful things that coincide with my interests that I normally would not purchase for myself."

The rest of the responses were all similar. Dads want to relax and feel appreciated.

If you are old enough to get your father something, give him your time. Write him a note, put some pictures in an album, or get tech-savvy and produce a video for him. Dads just want to feel like the father they imagined they would be when they were young -- respected, appreciated and surrounded by adoring children. You have a few days left to practice your "adoring look."

If you are wondering what to get your husband, think like Carol Brady, and simply make the day all about him. It doesn't have to be a lot of work for you, but shouldn't be any work for him. Encourage him to get out of the house and do something he enjoys. Don't pressure him into spending every moment with the kids. You don't have to fetch his slippers and rub his feet, but maybe you can enjoy a few cold beers together, put the kids to bed early and give him what he really wants. If not, a tie is always a good gift.
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