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Show the love. . . keep it simple!

When it comes to fathers, one thing is certain, our relationship with our dad, papa, ubaba, father or pops is possibly one of the most important relationships we will have.

Even if there is not much ‘relating’ going on, our connections to our fathers shape us all, men and women, for better or worse. As fathers, the connections we make or beak with our sons and daughters, will make or break their lives equally.

Since the Middle Ages we have celebrated Father’s Day in some form or other across different cultures. It started out with celebrations acknowledging the forefathers (our ancestors), and has shifted and changed over the centuries in various countries and cultures. Then along came commercialisation and the highjacking of these days and festivals by commerce — we could feel jaded. But let’s not, there is a simple take I’ll share with you to win at it every time.

Relationships with parents are often inevitably charged in some manner. They are the one relationship we can’t always choose. But we can choose to make it work, even when it’s difficult. Relating to ‘dad’ is not always simple, even when it could be simple. Navigating cross-generational values and norms, or the inevitable stereotypes we grow up with in our different cultures or families, makes communicating what we love about our fathers pretty tricky at times.

Just consider the many different ‘dad types’ that are out there and the various ways of relating to each: from proud pops, to geek dads, from absent-minded papa, or hipster dad, to coach guy, handyman dad or lovable daddy, or the missing-in-action-dad, or part-time father-guy, to active-duty dad superhero!

Whoever our father is, with his virtues or demons, with his trials and tribulations as a dad, underneath it all is a guy who wants to do his best, he may not always get it right, or meet our needs or expectations as a daughter or son, but he wants the best and usually in his way.

One thing is certain fatherhood impacted him in ways we may never know. He made sacrifices, maybe even tough choices, he might or might not have changed that nappy, or missed our first day at school, he may seldom send a gift or might just be a tad overwhelming by interfering where he could hold back a bit. Underneath it all is love — and he may not always know how to show it.

So here is one trick I’ve learnt over the years be it for Father’s Day or any day, when it comes to honouring the guy I will always love, who for better or worse shaped me to become who I am.

Keep it simple and say it as it is: “I love you dad!”

Mean it. And leave it at that.

It takes courage sometimes. It is always worth it. It never fails.

A favourite braai, or adventure might follow that simple sentence, depending on the interactive nature of our relationship. Underneath it all guys, and dads especially, have a soft spot, speak to their heart directly. Keep it short, simple and direct. And he will never forget.

It is not essential, but follow it up with that card if you must, or a little gift of something you know he loves — but only if that is his thing. Give it meaning first by referring to a favourite memory or speak to his dreams.

Father’s day is a day to remember how to really love the crazy-infuriating-generous-loving-impossible-trying-supportive-one-time guy who loves us underneath it all. And that is to just say it, simply:

I love you — Happy Father’s Day!

It's never too late to spoil dad. Shop our Father's Day Gift Guide.

By: Galeo Saintz - Conservation adventurer and global trails ambassador. Founding Chair of THE WORLD TRAILS NETWORK in Switzerland. Founder of the HI-TEC GARDEN ROUTE WALKING FESTIVAL, and instrumental foundering member of THE EDEN TO ADDO - Great Corridor Hike and THE RIM OF AFRICA- Cape Mountain Traverse.

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