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Father’s Day by The Book

I’ve always been a big fan of gifting books for holidays and birthdays because I personally enjoy reading and I believe more people should be reading actual physical books. Usually when browsing books for gift-giving I lean towards novels or biographies. However, for Father’s Day this year I’m looking at parenting guides for the Dads

I’ve always been a big fan of gifting books for holidays and birthdays because I personally enjoy reading and I believe more people should be reading actual physical books. Usually when browsing books for gift-giving I lean towards novels or biographies. However, for Father’s Day this year I’m looking at parenting guides for the Dads on my gift list. Of course not every book fits every father, so here’s a breakdown of potential books for dear dad based on experience.

First-Time Fathers. When our first daughter was born my husband and I utilized various parenting books. Tomes like “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley and “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber address the practical needs and challenges of newborns. For those new to the role of Dad, a manual-like book is an excellent present even if they don’t have the time to sit-down for a good read. Just having it on hand, as a resource, can be a blessing. My husband and I didn’t read either of the two books mentioned above, however we did skim them for the general gist and ended up successfully sleep-training our firstborn. Another great book to have at the ready for the first time dad is “What to Expect the First Year” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. This really is a very helpful reference book, with an index and practical advice.

Fathers in the Trenches. Now with two girls, ages 1-3 ½ my husband and I consider ourselves in the parenting trenches. Everyone’s basic needs are met, but these toddler and pre-school years can be challenging in terms of discipline and personal development. I have two books in my virtual cart ready to ship to gift my husband, “The Whole-Brain Child” by Daniel Siegel, and “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber. I checked out “The Whole Brain Child” from the library and found it very insightful, as it’s based on neuroscience, explaining how a child’s brain develops and what you can do to strengthen the synapses between the left and the right brain. And since “not listening” is the number one reason our three-year-old gets sent to time-out, I have high hopes for book #2.

Fatherhood—the In-Between Years. Once kids reach school-age, hopefully they’re self-sufficient and fairly well behaved. However, in this modern age both kids and their parents can feel the stress of overloaded schedules, the problems of the outside world, and a sense of disconnection with unknown perils of social media and technology. Some books I’ve been researching to help combat stress and it’s negative influences on family life include, “Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide” by Rebecca Eanes. This is part of the The Positive Parent Series, which provides practical solutions to create a peaceful and harmonious home life for the family. For how to parent around social media try “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World” by Devorah Heitner. This book not only addresses concerns about technology on children, but offers tools to enhance your child’s digital savvy.

Another good book for a father of school-aged children is “How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids” by Jancee Dunn. The title is a bit salacious and while this “how-to” is geared toward women, the man of the house can also benefit. This is a great book for both mom and dad to read together and discuss. Let’s face it, well-adjusted kids need well-adjusted parents.

Fathering Teens. Having two girls, I am not looking forward to the teenage-years, my husband even less so. If you have a dad of teen girls on your gift list this Father’s Day I recommend, “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood” by Dr. Lisa Damour. This book emphasizes laying down rules and explaining the context for the rules. Thinking back on my own teenage experience, there wasn’t a lot of discussion about expectations and rules, so this book sounds really appealing. And speaking of talking, whether you have boys or girls I also recommend “How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk” also by Adele Faber. This book is meant to be read with you teen, with talking points for discussions. Think of it like a family book club!

The Empty Nest Dad. In this day and age, many children post-high school and college still heavily rely on their parents, whether it be for emotional, financial, or spiritual support. It can be difficult to figure out the boundaries between parents and children during this time of life. “Empty Nest: What’s Next? Parenting Adult Children Without Losing Your Mind” by Michele Howe can help navigate those boundaries by guiding parents from the daily hands-on instructional role into an advisory position. This book also includes faith-inspired exercises to enable parents to treat their children as adults and apply tough love if needed. On the flip side, for those dads whose kids have more fully left the nest and are having a hard time adjusting try “Release My Grip” by Kami Gilmour. This is a compilation of advice, anecdotes, and encouragement that graduation isn’t the end of parenting, but more so a passage into a joyful new relationship with your adult child.

Grandpa! For the dad who has done the work and now is lapping in the glow of beloved grandchildren, just get them a biography of some historical general. You can go the obvious route like Ulysses Grant or Patton, but if you want to go on a deep dive may I suggest “The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry” vol 1. Yes, there are two volumes, so save the second for Pappy’s birthday, or next Christmas, whichever comes first.

Whether you’re shopping for a first-time dad or for a veteran father consider giving them a hand with a one of these helpful manuals. Sure, they may not read it cover-to-cover but as my dad always says, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” Happy Father’s Day!

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