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We all want to be better dads. Sometimes we know exactly what needs to be done. Then others we’re left scratching our heads with no clue of where to start. That’s all a part of fatherhood. But our goal is the same: have a great relationship with our children.
Here are 10 ways dads can connect with their kids.
1) Ask Questions - I lead with this one because I feel it’s very important. My son has started kindergarten. I don’t get to walk him to the door or pick him up and talk with the teacher as I did when he was in preschool. If I want to know what’s going on in my son’s learning, I have to ask. Sure he’ll tell me some stuff. But if I want to know if he was scared, overjoyed or confused during the day, I have to ask. Asking questions opens doors for understanding - both ways.
2) Let them Help Fix Stuff - Kids are naturally curious. They want to know why something works. Then they want to know why it works that way - it goes on and on! But a great way to introduce them to how their world functions is by getting them to help you fix the dryer or assemble their bike. Besides you can always use a flash light technician.
3) Be Present - In order to truly grow your relationship with your children, you have to be there for them. I know jobs and obligations can take up your time, I’m a dad too. But if you’re not there how do you expect to discover your daughter’s love for cherry ice cream or your son’s favorite Paw Patroler? Be there for your kids, the opportunity to connect will present itself.
4) Pray with Them - Perhaps this is the most important behavior we can model for our children is our faith in God. Praying is a direct way to talk with God and understand Him better. Do this with your kids. Show them you relationship with God. Don’t let them see you talk about God just at church and when the Cowboys are 4th and 1 on the goal-line.
5) Have Dance Parties - Yes, even I have participated in many a dance party with my son. I have no coordination or rhythm but I dance with him anyway. For most of us dancing is a fun, light-hearted activity that lets us laugh with our children. Unless you are a trained dancer, then your dance parties are much better than mine. Take the time to let your guard down and be open with your kids.
6) Read to Them - Reading to your kids is not only good for them, it’s good for you too. It helps develop language understanding, early literacy skills and help kindle their imagination. Also reading aloud to children gives them the opportunity to practice listening. And who’s kid doesn’t need more practice listening! But it also gives you a chance to connect as you journey through the story with them.
7) Play Outside - I didn’t know my son was good at soccer until I went outside with him one day and he showed off his skills. We’d enrolled him in at a soccer program at preschool and he really has taken to it. I had no idea that my son like the sport so much and was good at it for his age. We have epic, full-yard games that get intense. We’re both learning so much from this playtime together.
8) Live by the Rules - Your children have a lot of rules. They come from home, school, church and sports. As a dad, you are the example of masculinity to your kids. Show them that rules and laws are important by living by them. Let them see first hand that the rules are to be respected. Make sure explain any questions they have about stop lights, the infield fly rule and being respectful.
9) Share Your Passions - Are you a photographer? Do you play the guitar? Don’t let your kids guess at what you’re passionate about. Share your talents and gifts with them. If you are artistically inclined, paint with them. If you can sing, sing a duet of your favorite song. Being open with your passion will lead to a deeper understanding of each other.
10) Show Affection - This is a big one. Hugs and kisses are what kids need to feel loved. Don’t subscribe to some outdated view of fatherhood that says men can’t be affectionate with their children. To put it plainly when a kid his hugged, his brain releases natural chemicals that feel good and build trust. People with drug addictions poison their bodies with who knows what to get the same kinds of reactions from their brains. Be affectionate with your kids to build healthy relationships now and give them the foundation of a stable adulthood.
These are only some of the ideas we can build better relationships with our kids. Now it’s your turn. What are some more things that dads need to do with their children? Share in the comments below or on social media. For more on fatherhood and family protection in your inbox, check out The Secure Dad Newsletter.