At this time of the year, men lavish gifts on those they love, yet many are anticipating this holiday season with regret. That’s because, in the minds of many men, providing for loved ones means providing for them financially. For some, it’s the best way they know to demonstrate their love and affection. This is especially true for fathers.

So, what’s a dad to do?

While economic times remain tough and uncertain, guys need to look at themselves and their roles as men and fathers differently. They need to learn that their self-worth doesn’t equate with their net-worth. For fathers, this means understanding that they actually provide for their children in a variety of ways.

Although there’s been debate among social scientists over the effect of a family’s income on a child’s development, there is no doubt that a father plays a critical role, regardless of how much he spends on holiday gifts. Kids (especially young ones) don’t even notice their dad’s income. It’s his presence, not his presents, that counts. When considering presents – and presence – dads should think about gifts that will enable his kids to engage with him. Here are some simple gifts that can be profoundly important for your kids:

  • A ball you can play catch with
  • Books you can read together
  • Music to play and sing together
  • A deck of cards or board games to play
  • A pair of boots for hiking together
  • Goggles for swimming together
  • A kite you can fly
  • Gloves or a shovel to use in the garden

Research proves that kids benefit when fathers are involved in their lives. They do better socially, behaviorally, psychologically and cognitively. They’re happier, have fewer emotional problems, more friends and better relationships. They’re smarter and do better at school, and they’re less likely to engage in risky behavior or get into trouble.

Time spent with the kids is one of the best investments a dad can make for their future, and the best gift a dad can give.

Dr. Will Courtenay is an internationally recognized expert in helping men and boys, a much sought after speaker, a distinguished author and researcher, a psychotherapist, and radio host. You can find him at The Men's Doc.


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