One of our most common and powerful tips we ever give in the Fathering Project would have to be Dad Dates. It has two very important components – it is only dad and one of your children.
These one-on-one dad dates helps your children feel special, loved and listened to. The date doesn’t have to be an extravagant or expensive event, it is about the time together one-on-one to play, talk, listen, laugh and have some fun.
A ‘dad date’ can be anything, from dinner plus a movie, a special lunch or breakfast, a walk on the beach, a shopping trip, or a trip to the park, the city, or a show. Spend that date time just listening to them. Be deliberate about creating these special times, e.g. write such plans in your diary.
Before the school holidays come to an end, use this opportunity to take your children on separate dad dates.
- Dad Dates are one child at a time, with no-one else and no interruptions.
- Book it in and try not to cancel. Make a point of scheduling this in your diary, just like a meeting or a job. Don’t leave these Dates to chance.
- Focus on connecting. Help your child to feel like they are valued, loved and worth your time.
- Keep it simple. Dad Dates don’t have to be elaborate; a simple coffee, lunch or just going for a walk are easy ways to create one-on-one time.
- It can sometimes be special. Occasionally, try taking your child somewhere they’ve been wanting to try, this will help them know you listen to them.
- If you can’t make it, let them know ahead of time. Don’t make excuses or buy gifts as a payoff for not making it; just reschedule as soon as you can.
- Listen, don’t judge or criticise. Try to be interested, positive and encourage open conversation. Listen to how their friends are and any new interests they have developed.
- Be engaged. Turn off your mobile phone and don’t read the paper or watch the TV in the background (engage with them to make them feel worthy).
- The more you do Dad dates the easier it is. Persevere – it may be challenging at the start. Starting out with a fun or challenging activity together helps to get the conversation flowing.