Should I get him anything on Father's Day?
May 22, 2012 12:11 AM   Subscribe

Father's Day - He's got kids, but they're not mine. Should I get him anything?

I'm dating a guy who has three older teenage kids (16 - 20). I don't have kids with him and don't have any of my own.

Should I get him something? Will that be weird? What're your experiences? (Cool Father's day gift ideas are a plus!)

I figured I should answer this question since we'll probably have a few more Father's Days before we have kids together.
posted by p1nkdaisy to Human Relations (22 answers total)
Do you value him as a father and think his parenting should be celebrated? Then, by all means, get him something. It doesn't need to directly relate to being a Dad, but could just be something he would genuinely enjoy to take a break. It should be specific to him and probably something he would want but wouldn't purchase on his own. If you want to get him something Dad related, maybe organize a day/event for him with his kids (it doesn't need to be on Father's Day & it's up to you if you participate as well) and/or give him a really nice picture of him with them in a nice frame. It's not super original, but meaningful nevertheless. I think it's really lovely that you are thinking about doing something and you should follow that instinct.
posted by katemcd at 12:19 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think in many cases, the best gift for Father's Day is getting together with all the kids (or whichever ones are available) and doing something together (playing a game, having a picnic). Most dads I know seem to just really enjoy quality time and having their loved ones make a special point of saying "hey, you're a great dad." Rather than a tie or pair of socks or something.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:34 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it is a bit weird, unless you are more of a family and you are considered a step-mom (can't tell from your question). It can come off as you attempting to compete with his children for his attention on a special father-child day. As mentioned, probably the best thing would be to step back and let him have a day with his kids alone.
posted by saucysault at 1:59 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

I can answer this from the opposite end as a single mom of 3 teens.

When I was dating, it would have been weird for my boyfriend to do anything for me on Mother's Day, although I like katemcd's idea of a framed picture of him and his kids. If you've been on an outing with them and have taken such a picture, that would be a pretty sweet present.

Other than that, wishing him a happy Father's Day and letting him know you have no expectation of horning in on his special day (assuming he's spending it with his kids) is plenty.

But if he's not spending the day with his kids, taking him out for a fun outing would be good, because he may feel kind of crappy that he's not spending the day with his kids.
posted by kinetic at 3:08 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I always thought of Father's Day and Mother's Day as events where the kids do things for the parent in question, unless they happen to be too young to do stuff on their own, in which case another adult would help them... I guess it probably varies from family to family?
posted by bardophile at 3:11 AM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

What bardophile said. I think it's a bit odd because he's not your father.
posted by theichibun at 3:47 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

I don't know. When I was a single mom, my boyfriends (at least the good ones) would always take care to remember Mother's Day. They didn't, from what I recall, get me gifts, but they always wished me a happy Mother's Day. (And one of them still texts me to wish a happy Mother's Day, and it's always nice.)

My current partner conspired with my daughter to make it a great day, but he's also been parenting her, so it's a bit different.
posted by corb at 4:06 AM on May 22, 2012

Yes, you should get him something! Father's Day is to celebrate and appreciate fathers, and he's a father.

Definitely do what you can to get him together with his kids and do something fun with them. Give him something small before or after, so as to not steal his kids' thunder. He'll appreciate it.

For a small gift, you could go with the old cliche socks or tie . . . only present them to him on your feet and around your neck with not much in between (hee hee!!).

Otherwise, just keep an eye out for something small and useful you know he needs because that's really the only way to shop for a gift for men.
posted by mibo at 4:07 AM on May 22, 2012

Maybe if the kids were younger and you were in a relationship with him for years.
Otherwise... it seems kinda weird.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:13 AM on May 22, 2012

Can you treat them all to brunch (to leave the rest of the day open for them to make plans together)? Take pictures of all of them, but also of each of them with their father, and then frame and send them to each child. With luck, this sends the right messages about appreciation, respecting delicate boundaries, and your ability to share their dad while recognizing their bonds with him.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:46 AM on May 22, 2012

I vote for giving him something he can use with his kids- like a pack of movie tickets or passes to mini golf or a museum or some such thing. As long as it doesn't have a time limit (so it won't mess up his plans for the day) I think it would be sweet.

Father's day isn't just about YOUR dad, it's about appreciating the fact that being a dad is hard, and being a good dad is a lot of work. I think giving him an object unrelated to his kids would be a little strange (socks or something...eehh) but framed kids photos, whathaveyou would send the right message of respect and appreciation without stepping into stuff that isn't your place.
posted by Blisterlips at 5:03 AM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

I gave my favorite single dad a griddle for father's day a couple of years ago because I noticed that he really needed one, and then I used it to cook pancakes for him, his little girl, and me. It was kind of a joke, giving him the kind of present so many men gives to women for birthdays, anniversaries, mother's day.

Are your friend's kids going to be with him on father's day? That is going to affect what you give him. If you're close with the kids maybe you could all put together a great meal. If you're not close to the kids and they are with him that day stay out of their way, but give him a nice card and let him know you think he's an awesome dad.
posted by mareli at 5:22 AM on May 22, 2012

Blisterlips suggestion is GREAT. And I think the kind of gifts mentioned in that response and mareli's are great, too.

I was only dating my last boyfriend for a few months when I got him a gift for the holiday but I agree, Father's Day isn't ONLY for your father, it's meant to honor the great, hard-working parents you know that are doing it right. Say my friend is a nurse. She's not MY nurse but I'd still honor her work on Nurse's Day.

I'd suggest something that plays on his hobbies or interests or as mentioned, getting a gift that he can use with his kids and saying, "I stepping back on this day. Spend it with your family and your kids. I appreciate the work you do raising decent humans because that shit is hard."

I've gotten things like boat paddles (my dad trucks for Osagian and a set of nice wooden paddles was quite cheap considering), a fish fryer for a fisherman, etc.

This dude must be a great dad/dude if it occurred to you to honor him on Father's Day :).
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:44 AM on May 22, 2012

I have to say, it never occurred to me that only their kids could recognize dads on Father's Day (or moms on Mother's Day). I often recognize Mother's or Father's Day to people I'm close to with kids, other than my own parents. My best friend is a single dad, and I would always, ALWAYS expect to recognize Father's Day with him. (In fact, I even texted him on Mother's Day, since great parents were on my mind.)

I don't think it's weird at all. I think what might be weird is participating in the same celebration he's having with his kids. THAT might be weird, depending on how well they know you. But sending him a note, mentioning it to him, buying him a small gift ... I don't think there's anything weird about that.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:16 AM on May 22, 2012

It really depends on your relationship with his children. If you are close and one of them mentions that they want to do something special for dad but they can't afford it or don't have any ideas then you can offer money and suggestions that do not include you.

If you have no relationship with the kids and they only see dad every other weekend, then, they don't want you there. They don't want anyone there that will distract dad from them.

I would text him Happy Father's Day and leave it at that. Once you have small children of your own, then you can help them celebrate. Now is not your time.
posted by myselfasme at 7:17 AM on May 22, 2012

Nope. Just wish him a Happy Father's day with his kids. When my Mom was pregnant with me, my Dad gave her a mother's day card and a small gift. She was a bit put-off and said, "Uh, I'm not YOUR mother." From that point on, gifts only came from children to the parents. I think that's about right.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:37 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a stepmom and I've never gotten a gift for my husband from me or my stepson. I've given him a gift when we had our own children, but I never interfered when it was just our stepson. As he got older and I was around more (a few years) we would all go out together for lunch or dinner, but that was pretty much it.

Even now, I get gifts for him on father's day, but they are mostly from our kids and me. His son gets his own dad's gift with his mom and it hasn't ever caused problems.

I think you should wait (especially with teens!) and just see if they invite you to join them. If he does invite you make sure to ask if his children are ok with you tagging along.
posted by Sweetmag at 8:07 AM on May 22, 2012

I love the idea of getting him a gift that he can enjoy with the kids - gift certificate for a sports event or a movie or something like that. Whether you participate really depends on your relationship; I'd err on the side of not going, as it's easy to interpret it as overreaching. But to get something special for them to do together would be awesome.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:11 AM on May 22, 2012

I think a personal message from you to him delivered with a kiss would be appropriate. If you must, I like the photo idea, but I don't think it's necessary nor your obligation to give gifts on this occasion.
posted by amanda at 8:44 AM on May 22, 2012

You know, I guess I err on the side of "if you notice someone being great at what they do, you should definitely acknowledge it".
Surely you want this great fellow to know that you think he's a great Dad? A nice card and small gift would be just the ticket, I think!
Many years ago for Mother's Day, I wrote my aunt a letter saying how much our relationship had meant to me all my life. She had never had children of her own, but had been so good to me...anyway, it took nothing away from the fact that I wished my own Mom a Happy Mother's Day, and love and cherish her. But you know what? Almost 30 years later, Aunt C still talks about that letter and how much it meant...
Just sayin'.
posted by PlantGoddess at 8:45 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I never thought it weird to acknowledge Father's Day to a friend or romantic partner. I suppose it could be if you injected yourself inappropriately into his plans with his kids, or went over the top with a gift, but, I think it would be a lot weirder (and a bit cold) to not acknowledge the day in some way. Perhaps a short but nicely written email (no texting, blecch); or if you happen to be spending part of the day with him, treat him to a Father's Day ice cream cone or something small but festive.

A LOT of dads get little- to no acknowledgement from their kids on Father's Day. I think especially in divorce situations, where Mom may not be on the kids' asses to make sure they get Dad something, the day can go by unremarked.

I think you can never go wrong to express affection and appreciation for a loved one.
posted by quivering_fantods at 9:02 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

When my friend was dating her husband, who has kids from an earlier marriage, she always got him a father's day gift. I thought it was nice. He was estranged from his kids though and I think she was trying to help him get back in their lives (and she succeeded in that too).

My Dad's girlfriend sometimes gets him a father's day card and they don't have children together.

I don't think it's weird.
posted by bananafish at 11:35 AM on May 22, 2012

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