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Monday Mom challenge: Make it a great Father's Day

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Celebrating dads

What are the Father's Day traditions in your family? My kids are so lucky; they have an awesome father. They know it, too. When Father's Day approaches, they plot and plan what they would like to do for their father. Some of their ideas are grandiose and unrealistic, and some a simple and straight-forward. As the mom, I help guide them in the right direction to help make each Father's Day really special.

Celebrating dads

While there are some moms who might balk at doing much for their husband and/or father of their children ("It's not MY father," goes the reasoning, and I can (kind of) see the point), I am not one of them. My husband, by being a good father, makes it easier for me to be a mother. While I try to express my appreciation for what he does throughout the year, Father's Day is a wonderful opportunity to really show it - for the kids and for me.

Fathers, and father figures

My family is a "traditional" one: a mom, a dad, and three kids. But other families are less traditional. Father's Day isn't just about biology, it's about personal relationships. Who is it in your life who is your father figure? Your kids' father figure? Maybe there is more than one?

One woman I know considers herself incredibly blessed to have a strong, affectionate relationship with the father of her daughter, but she is married to someone else who is also a loving father figure to her daughter. She celebrates both men on Father's Day. My own father passed away several years ago, and I miss him acutely on Father's Day. I think, though, that by recognizing the great job my husband does as a father, I also honor him. And these are all relationships and emotions to be acknowledged on Father's Day.

Build traditions

Over the last several years, our family has built a Father's Day tradition that is fairly elaborate, definitely full, and lots of fun. We look forward to it every year. It starts with a late, decadent breakfast with gifts, followed by several family activities and ends with dinner out at a favorite restaurant. I take tons of pictures during the day and follow up the day by making a photo album.

Any tradition you create doesn't have to be elaborate or detailed, it just has to mean something to your family. Start by asking the dad to be feted what he would like to do. Sleep in? Good breakfast? Activities with the kids? Several hours alone? While our family prefers family activities on Father's Day (and Mother's Day), others don't. As the mom, you can help your kids understand that on this day, Dad really does get what he wants.

Gifts from the heart - and hands

Gift traditions also vary by family. My husband told me long ago that when it comes to birthday, holidays, and Father's Day, he much prefers handmade gifts from the kids over store-bought ones. Crafts overachiever that I am, I take this as a personal challenge to help the kids make something awesome. But the truth is, our daughter writing "I love you, Daddy," on a sticky note would mean just as much because it comes from the heart.

Sometimes I do get something nicer as a gift from all of us (well, me), but in reality, our day together is our gift to him. The kids are on their best behavior, and everyone is up for fun. It's a gift to all of us, really. Father's Day, like Mother's Day, ends up being as much about celebrating our partnership as parents as it is about each of our individual roles.

Get Father's Day gift ideas here:

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