As we all know, our children do indeed age and unfortunately one thing that is never clear on the path to their growing up is the answer to the question: “Have I spent enough quality time with my children and when I did was I making the best of that time?”
I have been around some fathers so good they actually resemble a cast member from a Disney inspired fairy tale, or even a supporting character from “The Simpsons” who is never away from his family, never loses his temper, and does nothing that does not include his children. If you do not know to whom I am referring to, take the time to look up “Okily Dokily.”
I have also been around some fathers that thought themselves grand for making trivial efforts to spend time with their family, then instead of going home from the office, headed to the nearest watering hole so they do not lose their identity. I also know fathers for numerous reasons, who are just are not there at all.
Quality time – our common questions
I guess the truth is that most of us land in-between, and as all good fathers do, struggle with the common questions of not only “should I spend more time with my children” but “how do I?”
To that I say if you have read this far you are on the right track. You are obviously aware of your obligations and understand its importance, and when you ask these important questions, that in itself becomes a great realizer and motivator. If you in fact care enough to think about it, you are closer to achieving your goals of quality and meaningful time together, time that does in fact build and enhance a relationship between the father and child.
So in an honest effort not to just make this one fathers opinion, I sought the assistance and advice of two father’s close to my own family, one being a very calm and well-mannered professional who is ironically trained in martial arts, “you would never think that this man aggression would ever break a board never mind a limb!” And another father who is a retired profession soccer player and current coach. The answers I got from the both of them was honestly open and gave a heartfelt fatherly testimony to how they answer the questions in their own daily life, and that situation may not be too far from your own personal one.
Spend focussed time, regularly
When asking Phillip, who is father to two young girls, ages 11 and 13, his words struck a true cord:
“spend focused time regularly” and “investing time in a child is your duty as a father.”
He went on to say that in raising his children, he speaks about “building words of life into them, and make sure they know that his love is unconditional.” He believes firmly that “for especially daughter, children get their self-worth from what they believe their father thinks of them,” and continues “If I don’t build into them what I feel GOD wants for them, then the world will, and I’m not going to let that happen!”
WOW! Powerful stuff!
Really disconnect from ‘work’
On the other side when asking our Soccer coach Chuck who has three young girls between the ages of 4 and 13, the next piece of advice was equally thoughtful; however, it took a different path.
Chuck states, drawing from his experience both on the field and off, that we are all working all the time, and even if you are not in your place of work there is a good chance your mind is still on work. His advice to fathers whether new or old is when you are with your children disconnect! He states that a father needs to listen and be engaged, but arguably more importantly, be aware of their environment.
That awareness can fuel more meaningful conversation, that will in turn evolve into trust, and that trust will foster a stronger relationship and when a child needs to tell you more important occurrences in their life they will feel more open to doing so. Chuck also reminds us:
“kids remember the little things, if a child scores a goal in a soccer game that is great, but chances are they are going to remember the ice cream at the end.”
He also offers “just have dinner as a family and talk about the day, that they will remember later”.
Strong stuff by strong dads.
Quality time is about asking questions
It’s true, we might not all be “Okily Dokily” fathers, but we can try to be fathers that are more apt to make good decisions for what is the best for our family.
For the father who is indeed looking for answers, you are off to a great start just by caring enough about your obligations to have read articles such as this, and to that I congratulate you. I will also leave you with an old famous quote that hopefully you will remember when your goals of fatherhood are coming to fruition and when they are not, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a really good Dad.”
Take Care and Good Luck! Chris