6 gift ideas for dads with kids who have disabilities

I am pleased to introduce Gary Dietz, the author and curator of Dads of Disability: Stories for, by, and about fathers of children who experience disability (and the women who love them), as a guest blogger today.

Gift Certificates for a Dad of a Child Who Experiences a Disability

by Gary Dietz

Father’s Day is June 15 this year, and that’s just around the corner. Here are some of my suggestions for “Gift Certificates” you can customize to give to the special fathers in your life.

  • Certificate 1: Rediscover Your Pre-Fatherhood Self.

A few months ago, I spent late-night hours designing and frosting a “Lego” cake. I hadn’t done that in a long time. But damned if burning those midnight hours didn’t energize me when logic would say lack of sleep should have ruined the next day. This certificate entitles the father to at least 4 hours of “alone time” on one weekend each month to rediscover something he used to love to do, but no longer does.

  • Certificate 2: Safely Rant an Unreasonable Rant.

Some would consider explicit permission for a father to rant as selfish. But fathers need to safely blow off steam lest it become unhealthy. This certificate allows the father to go somewhere, preferably in the car with music blaring. It gives them permission to curse and scream or cry about their jealousy of other fathers whose daughters are graduating from Harvard with four job offers.
This certificate lets him know you support a nice healthy session steam release; that you understand that occasionally laughing or crying at the irony of their life’s reality is a good thing. Important note: If a father needs this too often, you should help him find a health professional or religious leader to talk with.

  • Certificate 3: Befriend a Father of a Different Generation.

This certificate entitles the father to enlist your help to do what you can to find a more experienced father of a child with a disability to talk with. The more experienced one will likely enjoy teaching. Or breathe a sigh of relief at how much better it is now than years ago. The less experienced one will learn that joys are ahead, not just challenge.

  • Certificate 4: Blow Your Own Horn.

This certificate entitles a father to a public or private note acknowledging how proud you are that he can do something amazing. One caveat: it has to be something he thinks is amazing, too.

  • Certificate 5: Forgive Yourself Your Mistakes.

We all make mistakes, and fathers are especially prone to beating themselves up about their mistakes. My suggestion? Make a lot of copies of the “get out of this mistake free” certificate and hand out these certificates liberally any time a dad says he made a mistake Caution: Don’t use this when you think he has made a mistake, wait until he says he thinks he made one.

  • Certificate 6: Don’t feel Guilty When You Spend Time with Your Other Kids.

Sometimes we need to adapt activities for the whole family, and other times we need to go off with just one child. Give this certificate to a dad with more than one child, and add words that absolve him of guilt for spending time with some of his kids while letting the others have their own fun.

Any other ideas? I’d love to hear them. Leave your good ideas as a comment here, but do it fast: Father’s Day will be here before we know it.


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