Why Post-Covid Father’s Day Is More Important Than Any Other
For many people, Father’s Day feels like one of those contrived obligations we’re compelled to observe, perhaps grudgingly.
Like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, the list of commercially driven expectations for store-bought gifts, cards, and platitudes seem to mundanely mark the passage of time.
And as we begin to emerge from Covid-19 seclusion, more than one-third of the U.S. adults report having some form of depression or anxiety disorder.
For those who are unpartnered with limited social networks and low levels of participation, there are mental health issues associated with loneliness.
Older men 50 years and older may be particularly vulnerable to loneliness, depression, and anxiety because many may feel they need to “tough it out” and not “tell everyone their business.”
These are common attitudes among men.
As you approach this Father’s Day, unlike any other since many are emerging from isolation to beginning face-to-face gatherings, you may want to make it special.
So, the expressions of appreciation, gratitude, and love are now more significant, meaningful, and life-affirming than ever.
During these stressful times, you can take the opportunity to transform a contrived occasion into a most meaningful experience that will be treasured and ennobling for all.
Here are 8 ways to celebrate Father’s Day by bringing an older man out of loneliness and provide some relief and joy.
1. Avoid conflict and don’t let yourself be triggered by irascibility.
Recognize that with Covid, both adult children and older dads have been through a difficult emotional and psychological period.
Be more patient and forgiving of tension and grievances. This is a time for healing, so try not to be triggered by slights, insults, complaints, or unmet expectations.
Avoid the common mistakes to patronize, criticize, complain, recollect past hurts, and unresolved conflicts.
Take heed and laugh with the wonderful expression: “None of us had the parents we deserved.” Don’t go there.
2. Ask dad to tell a happy story about his childhood and friends.
Conversations about happy times and people from the past may be a wonderful comfort to relieve the solace from grief for those who are gone. It can enable your dad to tap into memories of happier times.
As you age, many of your thoughts and dreams dwell in your past. So, open the chance for him to tell a story that brings a smile.
3. Ask for his advice on an important matter to you.
Everyone wants to feel useful and needed. Many older adults may feel less relevant or engaged in the lives of those they love. So, advice or questions may sometimes feel like an intrusion to others.
Find a question or ask for advice that you believe he would feel qualified to address and listen with respect and gratitude.
You don’t need to follow or act on what he says, but the resulting engagement could be all that is required.
4. Ask to see a photo album, slide carousel, or home movie.
So many memories are locked away in the treasure troves of recorded family history. Yet, these visual artifacts can open his heart and soul to people and times he can bring to life through his own recollections.
Sometimes, you just need to ask, and it becomes the right time for special connections.
5. Tell him a fond memory you have of what he did for you or someone else.
Everyone wants to be seen, appreciated, and missed. As you reflect on your relationship with your dad, there may be a story or event that you recall and can relate to that shows you remember and appreciate some act of kindness or happiness that will bring a smile.
Think about ways your family helped you learn how to be a person in this world.
The stories about character and priorities such as education, having your back, useful advice, and ways you felt heard, seen, and loved (even if sporadic) illustrate values that are difficult to just say without having a context from your shared experience with him.
6. Spend a bit more time for the visit.
Allow for time to be extended if it is not a burden to him. Why create contrived urgency by over planning your day or having multiple appointments that cut short your time together?
If you see he is tiring or wants to conclude, then you are free to leave, knowing that you gave whatever time was necessary for him to feel your full attention.
7. Plan a future trip or vacation.
There is pent-up demand for travel after this year of restriction and isolation. Take this time to help him look ahead with joyful anticipation of times together in ways he would enjoy.
Ideas can be explored with no need for immediate decisions or bookings. Eliminate the stress and just revel in the prospect of better times together ahead.
8. Give a gift that encourages him for the future.
Consider giving him a journal, binoculars, suitcase, or a camera. You know your dad. So, whatever he would most enjoy, looking ahead with enthusiasm can motivate your selection of a future-oriented gift.
Make the most of this Father’s Day
Create the moments and memories that will be cherished by all in your own unique way.