Dads, our numbers are in, and I have to say, they're not looking good.

For 2014, the National Retail Federation finds that the average spending on Father's Day gifts will be $113.80, a drop of more than $6 from last year. Even more disturbing is the fact that this year's retail survey continues to reflect the ugly trend that families spend, on average, nearly 40 percent more on Mother's Day than they do on Father's Day.

This is an economic indicator all of us fathers should take very seriously, since it reflects the opinion of the kids who'll eventually pick our nursing homes. If this year's spending drop is any indication, we can forget about HBO and the courtyard view.

Dad's wrenching reality

The reason for this yawning gap in parental gifting becomes obvious when you think about the actual gifts moms and dads receive. On Mother's Day, the third biggest category is jewelry, whereas dad typically gets another wrench. And no, the parts on my Buick still aren't metric.

In every giving category, moms come out ahead. Consider:

Mom gets: Brunch in a fancy restaurant with a string quartet, white tablecloths, eggs Benedict, smoked salmon and mimosas.

Dad gets: Cheeseburgers on the grill, with instructions to make mom's medium-rare and try not to burn your eyebrows off lighting the charcoal this year.

Mom gets: Sophisticated lingerie, to remind the woman you married that, even though she's a mother, you think she's still one hot momma.

Dad gets: A tie, to remind you to dress up, suck up and bite your lip about the idiots at work or the whole family will have to move into your car.

Mom gets: A dozen long-stemmed, obscenely expensive flowers in a crystal vase that cost more than you spent on lunch for the last three months.

Dad gets: An entire flat of tomato seedlings from the farmer's market for you to plant, weed, water and fertilize for the next three months.

Mom gets: Chanel No. 5

Dad gets: WD-40

What, no duct tape again?

Add it all up, and it looks like a pretty chintzy deal for dad. Not that we mind, since we really do need that new shingling hammer to tackle the garage roof. Plus, as I tell my son every Father's Day, I already have the one single gift that can't be beat:

His mom.

(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at or visit