There are many things that fathers can do in the midst of a busy life to make a difference in the lives of their children. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time, and the busier you are the more kids appreciate the time you spend with them. It makes them feel really special and that they’re worth your time.
Eight tips that make a big difference:
- Schedule Dad dates with your kids – It can be as simple as coming home early one day a week and taking the kids to the beach, to the park, or for an ice cream.
- Spend time with each of your children one-on-one – We suggest “Law of NOANOK” — No Other Adults, No Other Kids. It could be a lunch or dinner somewhere your child chooses and a movie, or something similar.
- Be creative with how you spend your time with them. For example, if possible, you could walk to or from school with your kids, organise a dad and kids cook night, finish work early and take them somewhere that’s a surprise.
- Help kids understand that they are special. Think about what it is unique about each of your children and communicate this to them. It may be their personality or talents, the way that they show kindness, interesting things that they have done, pathways they have chosen to take, or many other things.
- Practise active listening. We suggest two useful strategies. First, avoid being the plumber or the policeman. The plumber fixes things — you don’t need to do that. The policeman makes judgments and arrests — avoid being judgemental and critical. Second, remember the word “boomerang”. Most people in conversation boomerang the conversation back to themselves. We try to get dads to practise “harpooning” the person they are talking with — to never boomerang back to themselves.
- Talk about your family values. Our kids are subjected to an enormous amount of pressure from television, movies, magazines and peers to adopt a series of values that are different from ours. Be specific with them about values like trust, honesty, integrity, respect, and encourage acceptance of diversity. The best way to model those values is practise what you preach with the interactions you have with others.
- Be involved in your children’s education. Sit with your kids while they do their homework and help them work through it. Begin to stimulate their curiosity from a young age by taking them on visits to the museum or the public library. One good trick when you take your kids to the museum or any other exhibition is to get them to look at everything and then come back and get them to tell you what their favourite two exhibits were.
- Create a positive and happy environment. Even on the days that feel tough, try to highlight one positive thing that happened to be grateful for. Laugh every day with your children. If humour is not your strength find other ways to laugh together – act silly or watch a funny movie.