As the father of a teenage girl and preteen boy, I understand the differences between children. They both grow up in the same household, but sometimes you come away thinking, “<Insert name here> got the message. Weren’t you there too?” Understanding this principle is essential when ensuring children take away from their childhood the intended morals and ethics.
To increase the likelihood of children receiving the appropriate message, it is extremely vital that dads take time with each child on a regular basis. For some of you reading this, you may be thinking this is impossible depending on the size of your family or your work schedules. I grew up in a family of seven (2 girls/3 boys) so, we did not get time like this because times were much different. My parents made sure we had food, clothing, and shelter - the basics. Times are different to say the least. With an ever-competing deluge of divergent value-influences, dads need to get that one-on-one time to shape their children’s mind-sets. Here’s why it’s so important.
I believe fathers (uncles, grandfathers, step-fathers, etc.) play a critical role in shaping the esteem, confidence, and security of their kids. Children with a fatherly influence are more likely to know who they are, what they stand for, and where they are going. This is critical in achieving your goals and avoiding life’s ever-increasing pitfalls. When the threats and temptations of life come, children know they don’t have to fight every battle on their own. For boys and girls alike, there’s major security in knowing their dad is there to protect them. Also, girls with a healthy daddy-daughter relationship are less-likely to stay in relationships with duds. This doesn’t mean they won’t try them out. However, they are less-likely to stay with the dead-beat after comparing Johnny-low grades to their father who treated them with respect, honor, and encouragement.
Dads, even if it’s 1-2 minutes a day or 15 minutes 2-3 times a week, set aside time for each child individually. Get to know who they are and what inspires them. Although group family time is important, and of course time with your wife is more important, take time with them alone so you can be attentive and engaged. Regardless of what they say or how they act, your opinion of your children matters. This investment will reap countless rewards. And the kicker is, it doesn’t have to be extravagant to be effective.
For those of you looking for some examples, here you go:
- A walk around the neighborhood
- Brewer’s game or other sporting event (one of my son’s favorites)
- Cook a meal together
- Dinner and a play (one of my daughter’s favorites)
- Ice-cream/frozen custard run (one of dad’s favorites)
- Play a board or video game together
- Play catch in the yard
- Read a book together
- Share a drink at a coffee shop
- Take a trip to the grocery store
Have fun with the list or create your own, and please let me know how it goes!