Five Ways Dads Can Stop Missing Out
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936 — the number of weeks we have between when our children are newborn and when they turn 18. That is not much time. I recently calculated that I only have 300 more weeks with my oldest until she officially becomes an adult. It reminded me to double down and get in the game as much as I can.
Did you know that 46 percent of fathers feel they spend too little time with their children (Source: 2013 Pew Research Center Study)? Sure, we are going to miss out on things, but we dads have to make every effort to be involved. We do not want to look back and wish we spent more time with our kids. Our involvement can have a positive impact on our kids academically, emotionally and behaviorally.
Here are five ways to get in the game before it’s too late:
Is it just me or are there more time commitments and places we have to be with our kids compared to when we were growing up? Know when and where things are taking place and make every effort to attend them. Engagement applies at home, too. If your child wants to play or build something, do it then, not later. Focusing our attention pn them when we have conversations with them, for example, is another way to be more engaged. When we are fully engaged in their lives by focusing our attendance and our attention on them, it shows them we care, it shows them they can count on us to be there and it creates memories.
Get to Know Their Friends
Our kids spend up to one-third of their childhood surrounded by friends. Know who they are spending time with — online and offline — so you know that those kids are good influences in their lives. When we know who they are spending time with it helps us know when to step in to diffuse any problematic behaviors or actions before they start.
Be a Coach
Coaching can be intimidating and stressful, but the benefits include them seeing you lead, knowing you care and spending more of these precious weeks with them.
It's easy for us parents to control a conversation with our child because we may think we know more than our child due to our age or experience. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to just let our child talk. Listen and let them share what is on his or her mind. Ask questions, correct your child if necessary, and get eyeballs to eyeballs with him or her. If your child is telling a story, let him or her share it and you show your interest in your child's creative mind sharing. It's important for our children to know we are there to listen to them when they need to get something off their mind – big or small.
Going on adventures can be inspiring to all of us and can also be a great learning experience. It can be a simple visit to a new park or museum, or it can be a road trip to explore a new city. The key is your family is going on a journey of exploration together. In addition to learning and getting inspired, these fun adventures give us exercise, create fun memories and help build confidence within our children. So where is your next adventure going to be?
These are only five ways to be more involved as a dad. Being involved is worth the investment of your time and attention because it strengthens the relationship with your children and shapes their character as they grow. Being a dad is one of the most important roles we will ever have. We should always look for ways to get in the game.
Derek Polen is a father of two, author, and publisher of “Next Level Dad” and “A Money Saving Mindset."