Father’s Day Gifts for the Emotionally Distant Dad

Because saying “I love you” is for your mom.

sarah james
Jun 6, 2017 · 2 min read

If your father is the kind who would rather hurl himself into the sea during his favorite battleship tour than deal with human emotion, Father’s Day can be a fraught endeavor.

“An expensive tie in my favorite color? Well… anyway.”

Don’t put him on the spot with a thoughtful gift that tells him how much you care. Instead, these gifts for the Emotionally Distant Dad will say “you are a person, I too am a person, we are related but let’s not dwell on it too much.”


Firm Handshake

A hug says “I love you,” but a firm, business-like handshake says “Pleasure doing business with you, Bob.” In this case, the business is “giving you life and raising you from infancy” but that’s really pretty similar to insurance sales, when you think about it.

Book On The Civil War That You Already Have

Your father will insist that buying a new book is a ripoff, because the library will just give ’em to ya for free. Reassure him you put no money into thanking him for providing for you for 18+ years by giving him the book your old roommate left behind about Gettysburg.

Five-Dollar Starbucks Gift Card

Nothing says “Not only do I know nothing about you, but I don’t care enough to put in any effort to figure out what you like” quite like a five-dollar Starbucks gift card. Make the Emotionally Distant Dad’s day by telling him it was a gift from your manager two Christmases ago, and you’d thrown it in a drawer and forgotten about it until you were looking for stamps.

Framed Picture of a Lighthouse

Your dad isn’t the type to have pictures of his family hanging around — after all, he “knows what you guys look like.” But he doesn’t know what the Thomas Point Shoal Light Station in Maryland looks like. Show him with a picture of it.

Just Birdseed

Birds are great because they never have to talk about their feelings, or look you in the eye. The Emotionally Distant Dad will appreciate disappearing during any kind of family disagreement to go spread birdseed on the deck. Plus, announcing what kind of birds are out there right now will give him something to say other than “I’m proud of you.”


Your Emotionally Distant Dad will love any of these gifts so much, he’s sure to send you a text message saying “I got your present.”

Right back atcha, Dad. Right back atcha.

The Haven

sarah james

Written by

sarah is an editor at slackjaw. her writing has appeared in reductress, splitsider, the toast, and more. thesarahjames.com

The Haven

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