Long before I picked STRENGTHEN as my word for 2012, my husband and I have also been trying to strengthen the relationship between father and child. (The kids get plenty of mom. In fact, Locke could stand to weaken his relationship with me.) We recognized that Chad was gone a lot from our home with work and church responsibilities. We just wanted to make sure that a strong relationship between dad and kids was well established before the teenage years.
We aren’t sure what will work so we are trying a variety of ideas. Here are a few things Chad does to strengthen his relationship with his children.
Since Chad goes out to eat for lunch (too) often, we decided that he could take 1 kid a week out to lunch with him. This works out that each kid gets to eat lunch with dad once a month. The child gets to choose where he/she would like to eat. Chad takes them during their lunch break so they don’t miss too much school. When it is Locke’s turn, I get to accompany them. The kids plot for weeks in advance where they will choose to go. See this post for more details.
Chad put Crew in skiing lessons last year and Chad instantly fell in love with the time that skiing gave him with Crew. He enjoyed the drive up the mountain and the time on the lifts to just sit and talk one on one with the Crew. So he put Elle in lessons this year and Croft is going to try it next year. You can’t beat having fun and time together.
(Now skiing is an expensive hobby to share so it could be bike riding, walking, basketball, video games or puzzles. Anything fun they can do together.)
Chad interviews the kids once a month. (Don’t get hung up on the word interview.) It isn’t way formal or an interrogation or anything, but it is a one-on-one talk. Chad talks with the kids about their interests, concerns, goals, etc. He asks questions about school, friends, testimony and habits. He teaches them and challenges them. But mainly he is supposed to just listen.
Chad likes to read to the kids from his iPad. He downloads a chapter book and he reads it to them on the nights he is home. They snuggle on the bed altogether. So far they have read Because of Winn Dixie, Treasure Island, Holes, Where the Red Fern Grows and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. They are currently reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.
I heard about the Daddy/Kid journal idea at Philmont Scout Camp last year. It is a great way to keep communication open when dad is not home very much. This is how it works: The child writes in the journal her feelings or whatever she wants to tell dad. Then she leaves it on dad’s pillow. When dad gets home (usually after the kid is asleep, that is why you would do this journal), dad writes his response. This way dad and child can keep a dialogue going even if they don’t see each other very much. We aren’t doing this one in our home because it doesn’t seem to be needed yet, but I am glad to have it in my parenting toolbox if I need it in the future.
Hopefully at least one of these methods will be the difference in a strong father/child relationship.
Happy Father’s Day to our strong dad who works hard to to STRENGTHEN his relationship with his children.