COLUMN: However you know him, celebrate dad for exactly who he is

News Editor Lauren Rice

It’s that time of year again where every media source, at least the ones I’m using, bombard users with gift ideas for Father’s Day. Of course, those ideas are limited to domestic-grade construction equipment and all things leather, for some reason. 

This year, my household celebrated Father’s Day on June 3, and I wanted to make sure this was specific to my dad, rather than the stereotypically masculine filter companies put over their products this time of year. 

My dad is an engineer, but he’s never been the stereotypical beer-drinking, recliner-sitting, remote-hogging football fanatic that the U.S. advertising industry thinks fathers are. There’s nothing wrong with fathers like that, but there are so many other ways to be a male role model that go unrepresented, that it becomes frustrating for me. 

So this year I got my father some art supplies he was interested in, and after struggling to buy a greeting card that didn’t have beer, a screwdriver or a T.V. remote on it, I took him out to lunch at a restaurant of his choosing. 

It doesn’t escape me the privilege I have with the great relationship between my dad and I. Not every dad will enthusiastically talk religion and politics while experimenting with tater tots on pizza. 

He’s my best friend and I don’t think I would have made it this far without him, so this is a reminder to appreciate the father in your life. (Maybe that’s your biological father, maybe it’s a stepfather, an uncle, a male role model. No matter how you know him, don’t forget to recognize the emotionally intelligent and present men in your life this year.)

Growing up with my dad, it took until I hit high school to learn how rare emotionally expressive men can be -- though high school boys are not the best sample, I know. Most of the time, the individual is not to blame for a disconnection: It’s no secret that boys are raised to suppress their emotions. 

The Johns Hopkins Medicine website explains that symptoms of depression show up differently in men and women, with men far less likely to seek help but four times as likely to commit suicide. More commonly, though, that generationally taught emotional repression can surface in men as irritability and impulsive anger, according to Johns Hopkins.

If you want to help a stoic man open up, Psychology Today recommends three things:

  • Recognize the silence
  • Start shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than with a sit-down
  • Cue emotions with physical actions and facts

More information is available on their website

I also think it’s important to note that it is not your responsibility to make a man open up, nor is it respectful to try to force anything. I’ve found that the best thing I can be is open and available within my comfort level. 

So, happy Father’s Day to all the role models out there. The builders, the artists, the grown-up geeks and everyone in between. 

Don’t forget to celebrate your father this year, not just as an all-American dad, but as an individual with dreams, hopes and feelings. 

Lauren Rice is Central Michigan Life summer editor and news editor. In her first year on campus, she covered the Michigan gubernatorial election, campus politics and government and feature stories, including a deep dive into women on the front lines during World War II.