Dads of Grads: 5 Great Gift Ideas to Help Them Face the Future

Beautiful female graduate

Beautiful female graduate

When your son or daughter is graduating from college, it can be as scary for you as it is for them. You want to support them and prepare them for the real world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports twice as many college graduates are in minimum wage jobs as there were five years ago. To get them through these frustrating times and help them find their dream job, it may be wise to treat your recent college grad with an exceptional gift that has a personal as well as business-related impact.

1. Custom Graduate Gifts

Etsy is an online craft store where users upload custom-made items for sale on their own commerce shops. The Etsy platform allows users to dig through all the personal shops by specific keywords, and find something truly unique. Etsy shops tend to only have small quantities of a single item. A keyword search of “graduation gift ideas” provides ideas ranging from engraved jewelry, charm bracelets, knot rings and graduation necklaces. The Etsy store currently has about 300 different graduation-related gifts.

2. Custom Business Cards

TinyPrints notes business cards are older than social media, more physical than the Internet, and more effective in public circles where business networking is so vital. Business cards can be a useful gift for new graduates tackling the world of business. Online custom business cards providers offer premium business cards as well as free themes and layout where buyers only pay for shipping. Even if the design is simple and clean, with only a name and phone number, it sends a message to the student to get out there and begin marketing.

3. Inspirational Reading

Where Will You Be Five Years from Now?” is a rather straightforward book that dives into the psychological elements of growing up and tackling the future. There are millions of motivational books on the market, but this one has immediate charm and relates well to new college graduates entering their career. At just 80 pages, it is great for reading-averse students.

4. New Cell Phone

For recent grads tackling the world, an advanced phone may be perfect for dialing for dollars and networking. A gift to reduce the bill load could be quite beneficial for a new graduate, too. The Samsung Galaxy S4 along with a data plan could be perfect for relieving the burden of a cell phone bill. The official website boasts a new technology known as the Air View navigation which does not require users to touch the screen. Other new 2014 models offer a similar innovation, making a cell phone and subsequent billing plan a great gift.

5. Tech and More Tech

The tablet has grown into a viable computer technology, and it is being used more like a computer than a smartphone. CMO Research suggests that 48 percent of US households will own a tablet by 2014, and users who browse the Internet on a tablet compared to a smartphone view 70 percent more pages per visit. The Chicago Tribune ranks the tablet as the top graduation gift for 2014, with its computer desktop capabilities and sleek design for business and personal use.

Using Sports for Fitness

Staying in shape is a lifetime commitment. Half the battle is, of course, there’s the whole exercise part. But the other half is simply finding the motivation to get off the couch to do something even mildly athletic. Both halves get harder as we age. In most areas of our life, we like routines. But when it comes to working out, it’s easy to get sick of going to the same gym, running on the same treadmill, and blindly going through the same old free-weight or machine routine. And then there are all those pesky excuses that keep us from doing the exercise we know we should be doing: it’s the kids, the job, you’re too tired, too busy, and so on.

One of the easiest ways to break the monotony or find your lost or misplaced motivation is to mix your routine up and play a sport. Sports tend to distract you from the fact that you’re actually exercising; plus, a little friendly (or not) competition can up the motivation factor and get you to push yourself a little harder than you might be inclined to otherwise. It’s a pretty simple concept: The more fun you’re having while working out, the easier it is to keep your body moving. And the more you move (the more physical the sport), the more calories you‘ll burn while playing!

When talking about sports to do for recreation, the first ones you’ll think about are probably pretty traditional, such as soccer, hockey, and softball. But why opt for something old and boring when you can try out something quirky and completely different? With that in mind the folks over at Bubble Ball brought Bubble Soccer to the United States. Born in Europe and spreading fast, the game is a creative combination of bumper cars and soccer. As you can see in the picture below, you’re still kicking a soccer ball, but the top half of your body is inside an enormous, inflatable ball.
bubble ball
Bubble Soccer does a great job of distracting you from how much running and kicking you’re actually doing by engaging you and your opponents in bubble-filled, bumper-car-like mayhem. Why run a mile on a treadmill, when you can do two in a man-sized hamster ball? The calories you’ll burn running, jumping, kicking, bashing, and just keeping yourself upright will add up quickly, making Bubble Soccer as fun as it is exhausting. You can play Bubble Soccer on your own if you buy the equipment or you can join a league (or start one in your area) and compete against other enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a new way to get moving, this is it.

Hybrid Tigers + The Dolphin Way

Quanyu Huang, author of The Hybrid Tiger.
Secrets of the extraordinary success of Asian-American Kids.
Issues: The differences between Chinese and American education; the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches; is it possible to say that one is better than the other> developing kids’ ambitions before discovering their interests.

Shimi Kang, author of The Dolphin Way.
: Raising healthy, happy, motivated kids without turning into a tiger.
Issues: What happens to kids raised by Tiger parents? the skills required to succeed in the 21st Century–and how Dolphin parenting encourages their development; The importance of play and downtime; what happens to kids raised the Dolphin way?

Sleep Woes: How Much Is Too Much?

Dear Mr. Dad: My husband and I have a three-year-old daughter and we’re a concerned about her sleeping patterns. Most people we know who have kids the same age worry that their children aren’t getting enough sleep. We’ve got the opposite problem—including naps, she sleeps about 14 hours a day! Is there such a thing as getting too much sleep?

A: Sleep is one of the things that parents of infants and toddlers struggle with the most—and, as you said, the problem is usually too little of it, not too much. Nevertheless, it’s perfectly natural to worry about anything child-related that’s out of the ordinary, even if it’s something that would make a lot of other parents envious. The general consensus among experts is that children your daughter’s age should be getting 12-14 hours per day of shuteye, including naps, so you’re within the range of what’s “normal.”

Children do a lot of their developing—both physical and mental—when they’re asleep, so there’s no question that sleep is important. But as we all know, kids develop at different rates, so it’s no surprise that what may be plenty of sleep for one toddler could be nowhere near enough for another. Bottom line, we all need as much sleep as we need—and those needs change over time. At six, your daughter probably won’t need any more than 12 hours per night. And by the time she heads off to middle school, she’ll be down to 10 or 11. When she hits the teen years, her sleep needs will increase (but since worrying about her will keep you awake at night, your family’s total average sleep time will stay about the same).

The thing to focus on here is the quality of your daughter’s sleep, not the quantity. And one way to assess that is to simply pay attention to her behavior when she’s awake. If she’s generally happy, energetic, playful, engages with you, and seems to be having a good time, all is well. But if she’s sluggish, tired, irritable, or behaves differently (worse) than usual, there could be a problem. It could be something as simple as iron deficiency, but it’s worth making a call to your daughter’s pediatrician.

A note on last week’s column on the Obama Administration’s exaggerated claims of the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses. I received a huge number of responses from men and women around the country. Most were quite supportive and some shared their very poignant experiences of having been falsely accused of assault and how difficult (or, in some cases, impossible) it has been to recover. A smaller number of people disagreed with my take on the issue and shared their equally poignant stories of instances where legitimate cases of rape or assault had been ignored and, again, how difficult or impossible it has been for the victim to recover. But whether they agreed or not, these emails had one thing in common: they were written by people who had an interest in a respectful, healthy debate of an important issue.

Unfortunately, there were a few outliers—people (all of whom disguised their identities in some way) who felt the need to call names, make accusations and threats, and even suggest ways I should kill myself. I truly enjoy interacting with readers of this column and am happy to discuss pretty much anything with anyone, but if your email is inappropriate (you’ll know it if it is), don’t expect an answer.

How Not to Calm a Baby on a Plane

Johanna Stein, author of How Not to Calm a Baby on a Plane.
Hilarious, real-life lessons in parenting.
Issues: Going to war against the color pink; calming your child on a plane with a barfbag puppet–that someone else had used; your first emergency room visit; the most embarrassing and satisfying moments of parenthood; why to never play a practical joke in a hospital delivery room.