/ Parenting

Am I too old for Father’s Day?

Too commercial? A nice excuse to say ‘thanks’ to your Dad? Father’s Day seems more controversial than Mother’s Day, perhaps because it doesn’t have the long tradition. I’m unsure how to celebrate either of them…

In case you’d forgotten, it’s Father’s Day this Sunday.

When I was little I’d throw myself into Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with all the enthusiasm of someone who liked making macaroni collages. I’d make presents, pour excessive amounts of glitter onto homemade cards, and proudly present my feeble creations to overly grateful parents.

But now I’m older, I’m a bit neglectful. I’m incredibly grateful to my parents, and am lucky enough not just to have a Mum and a Dad but also a Stepmum and Stepdad – all of whom are very supportive, caring and fun. So why is it that as a grown-up I eschew the idea of cards and gifts, in favour of a phone call?

Saying ‘thanks’ to Dad

I think partly I feel that although I am grateful to my parents, showing it by impulse-buying gifts and sending (usually incredibly cheesy) cards doesn’t quite cut it. The tokens you can buy for Mother’s or Father’s Day just don’t seem like a very ‘adult’ way of expressing parental love. How about a nice meal out? Something a bit more mature?

What’s more, sending cards these days seems a bit forced to me – the people I like get regular emails. If I want to do something really unusual I’ll pick up the phone and call them.

So now that I’m older I’m far more likely to call my Dad on Father’s Day, have a nice chat, then take him out for a curry when he next comes to visit. It just seems more grown up. I asked a few others at Which? HQ to see what they had to say. Florence feels she spoils her mum more:

‘On Mother’s Day, I always make an effort to go and take my Mum out, and give her a gift. Yet when it comes to Father’s Day, I tend to just pop a card in the post and give my Dad a call. It’s not that I like him any less – for some reason I just feel like treating Mum is more expected. Am I just an awful daughter – or do others tend not to bother as much with Father’s Day?’

Pete isn’t expecting a Father’s Day parade:

‘I don’t want to be too downbeat about Father’s Day – but it isn’t exactly high on my agenda. Maybe it’s because I think it is a made up holiday – unlike Mothering Sunday. Having said that, if my toddler son makes me a glue and glitter card at nursery this week, I’ll obviously be delighted. And I fully expect to be up at the crack of dawn celebrating ‘my’ day by watching ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ or CBeebies with him. But a real Father’s Day treat would be getting a babysitter for Sunday evening – so that we can go out for our wedding anniversary, which falls on the same day…’

Charlotte’s been told not to buy presents:

‘I received an entertaining email from my Dad asking my siblings and I to ‘limit any demonstration of affection or wit to a card’ and not send any presents. As it happened we’d already clubbed together for Mother’s day for a day out for our parents to spend together – although not sure that’s quite the sprit of the day when we probably should spend it with him!’

So it’s a mixed bag – I think people certainly downplay Father’s Day a bit compared to Mother’s Day. I understand why, because Mother’s Day has been around for longer, but it seems a bit unfair on the Dads. After all – don’t they deserve a bit of pampering every now and then?


My Dad is unfortunate enough to have Father’s Day land on my mum’s birthday every year – so it seems to automatically happen that she get’s a little bit more pampering!

However, my Mum and Dad are both total lifesavers and, since I’m an adult, I find myself trying to express my gratitude with presents and treats more than I ever have. Yet, it always feels massively inadequate – like giving my mum a nice watch or a model helicopter for my Dad could ever be enough to show my ‘thanks’.

Fathers day is payback day for me. All those years of no sleep; bottom wiping; nappy changing; school runs; diary manipulation so I never missed a school play, concert or parents evening; conferences with teachers when issues at school arose; the reams of homework I had to do. The ‘exploration & character building holidays’ resulting in me drowning [sea, marsh & mudflats], falling off cliffs, driving into reservoirs all accompanied to shouts of Mum look what Daddys doing now and much laughter [I soon learned to stop calling for help and just concentrate on staying alive]. The teen years, being a minicab for sprogs and their mates, sitting in St James Park at 3am, awaiting the call from the club of choice, to ‘come get us and drop my mates off home’, relationships gone sour. Taking an unsuitable boyfriend for a long ride with a couple of my naughty mates; sitting up by the bed all night stopping them choking on their own vomit after excessive celebrations. The trips around the country to Uni’s [again fixing the diary to get those extra days off], the uni years [doing essays, paying rents, buying food and supplying an endless stream of booze]. More degrees, more essays, more hard work, then the jobs, calling in favours to get internships, buying cars, and the holidays, solo jaunts to weird and wonderful places, whilst I lie awake at night worried out of my mind about kidnapping, rape and murder.
On top of that the never ending stream of money they seem to get through, the older they get the more expensive.
Yes they are great kids and have turned into wonderful people I am proud to call friends as well as my children, they call or mail me every day or just pop in. My son still lives at home and has taken over all the ‘man stuff’ around so I can put my feet up sup on a jar of cider and watch him change my brake pads, or clean out the gutters. [It’ll be my house one day Dad, so I’d better look after it].

Nevertheless come fathers day I want my slap up meal, bottles of after shave, rare ales and a chance to be as grumpy as I like, telling them what a pain they have been, its my day and I intend to moan for at least 8 hours.

My son and daughter have never done anything for father’s day since they were about ten years of age. We have supported them well into adulthood and have gone without days off, holidays and worked through illnesses to keep a home and bills paid for. My daughter, now 28 years, has lost touch in the last few months and my son, now 30 years, still needs to be reminded by me for Mother’s day.
Perhaps if we had been less caring our children would at least think of mum and, sometimes, dad.
However, we still love both children no matter how old they are and we will always be there for them.

It is a good excuse to visit parents. Why should we need excuses? We shouldn’t but we tend not to visit enough. Not enough because just as we like to be independent they do too – fiercely independent – in fact TOO fiercely independent.

I was reminded last week by an email from Action on Hearing Loss (previously RNID) not to ignore those amusing conversations because things have been misheard because they are no longer amusing when important things are misheard or not heard at all – eg doctor’s instructions at an appointment or after an operation. Trying to work out what is happening when you can’t hear each other on the phone and live some distance from each other is a big problem. The excuse that “I won’t be around much longer” has to be ignored. We just have to tell them that they should expect to be here until 100 and so had better do some planning for it!. There is an online hearing test available.

Eyesight is another problem – life can be miserable with poor eyesight especially if you are too old to be able to get used to many changes in technology. Teach your Grandad (or Granny) to text and then they won’t be marooned in hospital! We found hospitals understaffed and staff to busy to be able to help with the hospital systems – TV and telephone. If they were available for the elderly they were impossible to use – one was deaf and couldn’t hear the phone ring and screen was too small for teletext and the other couldn’t see (or feel) how to use them.

Make sure that they are going to all their appointments. With hospital transport an appointment can take all day and this can take quite a lot of arranging (sandwiches and a drink to take, the worries about travelling far from the loo etc.) Oh and yes, we’ve taken time off work to organise the logistics of wheelchairs etc only ne one case to be told that they would be calling her back in and in another that they didn’t have her notes. Nowadays you can be bumped off a hospital list easily and any misunderstanding could mean something like this happens. Dealing with automated phone calls from machines instead of people you can ask to repeat something does not help..

Getting big button phones and loudspeakers for phones are just a start – but probably one that you as the son or daughter needs to instigate and help with finding (as well as all those little things like bags for the hoover that you can find online).

It’s hard but at some point you have to boss your parents around and be forthright and even take charge and say GET A HEARING AID!

The longer you leave it the more difficult it gets.

Oh dear . . . I must have missed it. I hope another one will come along next year.

Forget the commercial hype around birthdays, Mother and Father’s day and Christmas.
Parents are there 365 for acts kindness, consideration and communication.
Gifts, as and when necessary, are then really appreciated and more readily acceptable.
Cards………a waste of money?

Hmmm… eight years between posts Is that a record?

Six years I believe, but Oscar has kindly provided a brand new Conversation: https://conversation.which.co.uk/shopping/what-are-the-best-fathers-day-gifts/

Ian – If you look back you will find the odd Convo with no comments at all. Some of the weekly summaries were like that.