Back when our culture was predominantly agricultural, fathers spent much of their time at home with and near their children. The Industrial Revolution moved fathers out of the home for the greatest part of the day and created separation between them and their children. The Internet Revolution has created further separation with both dads and children “checking-out” on their phones and video games. Now, as dads, we have to be even more determined to be present for our kids.
Tip #1: Dads need to “be there” physically for their kids
Spending quality time with your children may require sacrifice on your part. Going to your son’s or daughter’s school, games, recitals, or concerts may have much more positive effect on their lives than taking that next promotion. Fatherhood is more than paying for their food and activities, it’s about physically being there. Maybe you need to re-evaluate the priorities in your life. Maybe you need to make a correction to your career trajectory to be more present.
Tip #2: Dads need to “be there” emotionally for their kids
This one could be a little harder for most men. It’s much easier for us to do the physical stuff and leave the emotional stuff to our wives. Allow yourself to be more vulnerable to your kids. We have to deliberately be more intentional about our parenting, paying more attention to their emotional state. Engage them, carefully probe, and ask questions about their emotions. We certainly need to respect certain boundaries, but you’ll be surprised to discover that they actually want you to be there emotionally – even if they’re not acting like it.
“Being there” for your kids both physically and emotionally will have life-long positive effects on their lives. But it doesn’t happen automatically. We have to actively take steps to make it occur. Perhaps a career adjustment or simply a re-evaluation of our priorities to put their needs or desires ahead of our own. The important thing is to make the time to be there for your kids.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- On average, how much time did your dad spend with you every week? What kinds of things did you do together? What do you wish he did more of?
- On average, how much time do you spend with your kids? What kinds of things do you do together? What do you wish you could do more of?
- How do you try to connect emotionally with your kids? Give yourself a grade on how you’re doing with it.
- What are some of the “boundaries” you should maintain with your kids?
- Make a list of the activities that demand the majority of your time. Are there ways you could reduce/eliminate some of these? Are any of these activities more important than time with your children?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.