How best to connect with dad on Father’s Day

farmers hands on tool

Soon we will pause to celebrate our fathers. The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated in 1910, in the state of Washington. The idea for this day is credited to Sonora Smart Dodd whose father, a Civil War veteran, raised her and her siblings after their mother died in childbirth. Father’s Day became a national holiday in 1972 when President Nixon signed legislation designating the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Father’s Day sometimes gets lost in the shuffle between Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day. The National Retail Federation reports that $20 billion is typically spent on this holiday which pales in comparison to the $35 billion spent for Mother’s Day.

But does dad really need another World’s Best Dad mug, a tie or another tool? Maybe there is something better and more meaningful you can give your farming father. Recently, I saw the results of a survey conducted by One Poll in 2019. This study reported the top gift desired on Father’s Day was a simple phone call. Additionally, the survey found that nearly 75% prefer an experience over a physical gift.

Each one of us is wired differently when it comes to how we show and how we like to receive love and appreciation. Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the book titled “Five Love Languages” which examines the five love languages which are: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

So, how can you best show your love and appreciation to your father, grandfather or other influential male this Father’s Day? If you do not know the love language of your father, I would encourage you to explore Dr. Chapman’s website at where each of you can take a quick quiz to learn your preferred style. Let’s take a quick look at the five love languages.

Quality time: My dad’s primary love language was quality time. My dad enjoyed unrushed conversations. I know his love tank was refilled each day by spending a long lunch hour (or two) just talking to my mom. He knew no stranger and spent countless hours talking to every ag salesman, milk truck driver or relative which would stop in at the farm. To show love through quality time on the farm, think about things which you can do with your father. Maybe it’s riding together in the combine, checking fence together or just stopping in for a cup of coffee.

Acts of Service: This was my dad’s secondary love language. His acts of service shone through his volunteerism on the school board and with the Country Neighbor Program. On the farm, acts of service can be shown through doing things which lighten their load and expecting nothing in return. Actions speak louder than words. This could mean running into town to grab a part so they don’t have to stop in the middle of a project. Or it could mean surprising them with their favorite meal during planting season.

Words of Affirmation: This is my top love language. In my experience, many farmers struggle to express their love through verbal expression. Words matter greatly to those who have this love language. This could include saying thank you, I love you, you did a great job, I couldn’t do this with our you or I am proud of you. Written words can be just as meaningful, such as penning a letter about how much they mean to you.

Physical Touch: This love language can be demonstrated through a simple handshake, a touch on the shoulder or, if you are like me, through an actual hug. For others this may be a high five or fist bump. Or it could be as simple as putting your arm around them in church.

Gifts: Persons with this love language give extremely thoughtful gifts and are appreciative when someone puts effort into finding the right gift for them. However, gift giving does not have to cost money. It could mean picking wildflowers from the fence row or creating a homemade gift.

I encourage you to read Dr. Chapman’s book and to take time to explore the love languages and how they relate to your farm family. Additionally, Lisa Foust Prater wrote an excellent article titled “The 5 Five Languages for Farmers” last year in the Successful Farming magazine which can be accessed at: family/the-5-love-languages- for-farmers.

To close, I would like to share a quote from Dr. Chapman who stated, “Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.” Have a great Father’s Day!


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