Spending Time With Your Children
Often, we men think we need to do something "big" to connect with our families (like a big vacation, or big presents, or big adventure), when most of the time, it's the little things that add up. What I have discovered is that whether I am playing Throw It Like You Catch It with my daughter, or sitting on the bed talking to my wife about her day, it is the seemingly insignificant times spent with my family that really make an impact and speak love to them.
You see, our partners and our children spell love T-I-M-E. What you may see as insignificant, they see as time spent with them. So, any time we spend playing, talking, creating, tickling, laughing, etc., is positive attention and is very significant in their eyes.
Consistent, positive time spent with your family will have a very significant impact on them. This is one reason why the role of the father is so important in the family relationship. When children receive primarily positive attention from their dad, a few things will happen:
How children are treated by their parents will directly influence how they receive love from others in the future. Most times a girl who receives primarily positive attention from her father/stepfather will come to see this as how people who love her should treat her. This will directly affect how she seeks to be treated and how she allows herself to be treated in future relationships. A boy who receives primarily positive attention from his father/stepfather will interpret this as an example of how men show love and how he should treat his children. A boy who sees his mother treated with love and respect will see this example and it will influence how he treats the girls and women in his life.
It cannot be overstated how important it is for dads to give their children positive attention, and lots of it.
Here are some ideas for spending positive time with your family:
Gather for a Meal—Enjoying a family meal together is one of the best ways to connect as a family and has proven to be one of the most effective family bonding tools out there.
Read to Your Children—If you have young children, read to them. And do the voices! Be animated! Reading allows for bonding with children like nothing else. They will love it…guaranteed! For older children: you can read the same books your children are interested in (or you can all agree to read the same book at the same time). You can take time to discuss the latest book they’re reading; ask good questions about the books. The point is to connect with your child on a deeper level than asking “how was your day?” Then they answer, “Good.” And then the talk ends.
Interact in Play With Your Children—Do something with your children that they enjoy. Let them pick the "thing". Whether it’s getting on the floor and playing with dolls, or trucks, or playing catch, get on your child’s level and play. This simple thing will reap massive rewards and open lines of communications for later. For older children: do something they like, such as playing their favorite video game, shopping at the mall, or playing a sport – be invested and interested in your child intentionally for this activity.
Date Nights—Whether you have sons or daughters, you should go on dad-kid dates (your son may not want to call it a date). You can go for ice cream, go bowling, have a picnic at the park, etc. The point is for you to spend individual time with each member of your family. Schedule separate dates with each of your kids. It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a lot of things you can to on a date with little or no money.
Get Active—Engage your family in physical activity! It will bond you with your kids and help to build healthy habits. From riding a bike, to basketball, or walking or hiking in a nearby park, dads can be intentional about getting out from the normal routine and getting active with the family on a regular, consistent basis.
Family Game Night—Family game nights haven't died. If it's possible, suggest a family game night instead of going out to the movies. The idea is to have group interaction, which generates playful conversation, fun, and bonding time for the whole family. This can also be an arena that you can address difficult topics with the kids. They are more open to discuss awkward subjects when they are having fun. This can also be great for bonding if your wife/partner isn’t the mother of your children or if you are a stepdad.
The bottom line here is to spend time enjoying life with your children, with your family. Create memories. Create bonds. Be the dad your family needs you to be!