How to Spend Time with Your Child
How a father spends his time tells his children what's important to him. If you always seem too busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but it is essential to spend time with your children. Kids grow up so quickly. Missed opportunities are lost forever. (Taken from NFI's best-selling brochure, 10 Ways to Be a Better Dad.)
Here's a couple age-specific suggestions for how you can spend time with your children - but the opportunities are endless!
For a Dad of infant or toddler
- Start early and get resources to educate yourself: You can begin bonding with your child even during pregnancy by learning as much as you can about what's going on inside Mom as the baby develops. Educate yourself on how to care for a baby - try our interactive resource When Duct Tape Won't WorkTM or the New Dad's Pocket GuideTM. Don't leave all the diaper changing, baths, or cuddling to Mom - get involved in those activities as a way to bond with your child.
- Bond in your own way: Moms and Dads parent differently, so it's okay to do things a little differently than Mom. Even at a young age, you and your little one can begin creating memories by splashing in the bath bubbles, playing "airplane," or doing a little rough-and-tumble wrestling - as long as you're being safe.
For a Dad of a school-aged child
- Enter their imaginary world: If your son loves pretending to be an astronaut, pretend to be the space monster that interrupts his moon exploration. If your daughter enjoys tea parties, get dressed up and let her show you how to correctly sip from a tea cup. If he likes playing pirate, make a funny eye-patch and swashbuckle on the high seas with him. If she likes to play cowgirl, be her trusty horse or the town sheriff. It may take a little work to get into "pretend" mode, but the memories will be worth it and it will mean the world to your child.
- Help with homework: Sure, your kids may not think working on homework together is fun, but it will communicate to them that you value their educational success and you are there to help them achieve their potential. Be careful not stress them out with unrealistic expectations, but affirm them in your confidence in their abilities. Try to make it fun! Work on math problems together and use pieces of candy as a counting tool. Read a book together and use funny character voices.
For a Dad of a teen
- Do an activity together that they're interested in: You might think your teenagers are too cool to hang out with you, but they are probably craving time with you. Teens have busy schedules, so let them know you want to do something together and ask when they're available. Let them pick the activity based on what they're interested in. Attend a local minor league professional sports game, see a movie at the theater and get ice cream afterward, or go bowling.
- Be there as much as possible: Extra-curricula activities can dominate your teens' schedules, but it really means a lot to them when you are there. Do everything you can to attend their sports games, concerts, cheering competitions, etc. Rearrange your schedule at work, if possible. Your teens need to know that Dad is their #1 fan.