With Mother's Day a couple of weeks behind us, it's time to think about Dad. Get your children started making cards, crafts and gift certificates for Father's Day. Here are some ideas:
--Dad probably doesn't need a new tie, but what about turning a couple of his least favorite ties into snakes? Stuff them and sew on buttons for eyes.
--In the children's book "Guess How Much I Love You?" (Candlewick Press, $7.99) by Sam McBratney, Little Nutbrown Hare wants to show his daddy how much he loves him. Help your child measure with string the distance from the tip of his left hand to the right, then enclose the string inside a homemade card that says, "This is how much I love you!" Have dad guess what the string represents.
--With preschoolers, take a survey and have your child draw a picture of daddy. Write down exactly what your child says. No editing allowed. Suggestions for questions: How old is dad? What color hair does he have? Where does he work? What is his favorite thing to do with me? What's his favorite restaurant? If you could give him any present in the world, what would it be?
Ideas for books for the dad who needs advice:
--In "Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children" (Ballantine Books, 2008, $20), author Tom Sturges breaks down his advice into catchphrases along with anecdotes. His tips include:
"Parking Lot Rules." Your young child needs to stay beside you in a parking lot. "No trailing behind. No racing ahead," Sturges writes.
"When you get upset, whisper." Parents who yell are intimidating.
"The Caboose Rule." When a family or group travels together, assign an adult or older child to keep up the rear and ensure that no little ones lag behind.
"The 10-Second Rule." Keep from saying the first thing that pops in your mind after your child makes a mistake by pausing for 10 seconds before you dole out discipline or punishment.
--"The Father's Guide to the Meaning of Life" (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009, $9.95) is a collection of life-lesson essays by men's health journalist Joe Kita. "Kids may not listen, but they certainly watch," he writes. "It's what they see -- good and bad -- that largely determines who they'll be."
--In "The Don't Sweat Guide for Dads" (Hyperion Books, $10.95, 2003), another in the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" series, the book helps new fathers find balance and keep the pressure down when it comes to raising children.
--"Rookie Dad" (Pocket Books, $15, 2001) by Susan Fox offers games and activities for dads to initiate with their babies, as well as advice on feeding and changing. In a follow-up book, "Rookie Dad Tackles the Toddler" (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 2005), also by Fox, dads discover that the rules of parenting change completely after their baby starts walking and talking.
Even when your baby is just a few weeks old, it's not too early to start a daily dad-baby reading and snuggling time together. Even if you're reading "Sports Illustrated" and your baby has no clue as to what you're saying, he still has the comfort of hearing your voice and feeling your warmth.
Betsy Flagler, a journalist based in Davidson, N.C., is a mother and teaches preschool. If you have tips or questions, please email her at email@example.com or call Parent to Parent at 704-236-9510.