I have 4 children. I love them deeply. I have noticed that they want more of Daddy lately, because they ask all the time, "Daddy, will you play with me?" I have also found myself saying, "Son (or daughter), daddy has work to do. We can hang later. I promise." Have you ever said this? To some degree this is completely appropriate. It is irrational to be able to play with my kids as often as they would like.
Yet, my fear is that I say this too often.
One of my goals as a father is to Love my children and for them to never question my unconditional love for them.
One way to do this is by forming and cultivating a bond with each kid individually.
Tough times are coming. There will come a time when my children rage against the machine or question the way they are being brought up. My wife and I expect this. When these moments or seasons come, it is important for my children to understand that they are loved and accepted. I hope that we are able to communicate well despite their rebellion or moments of insanity. Do they understand that my love for them is not conditionally on how they behave or how they preform (especially in sports)? Can I build a strong foundation in my relationships with them in childhood that will carry on in their adolescence as well as into adulthood? So my wife and I, by the grace of God, have come up with what we think is a solid solution to cultivating a bond with our kids as individuals and showing them our love.
Give them each a Day
What I mean by giving each a day is telling our children that a particular day will be their day where they will have a date with mom or dad with one on one focused attention. These dates will not be anything extravagant (although they could be). It can be a walk together, a vanilla cone from McDonald's $1, playing on the iPad together, reading a book together, painting my daughter's nails, etc. This day would be their day their whole lives. When they grow up and are out of the house, my wife and I will make the effort to call them on their day to catch up and connect with them.
Goals for this strategy:
- Allowing our kids to feel valued
- Establish long lasting personal connections
- Show our interest in their lives
- Have opportunities to ask deep questions that prove our interest in them
- Develop and maintain ongoing communication into adulthood
- Creating life long memories
- Create planned shared experiences that prove our love is unconditional (this means hanging out with your kids when you really don't like them at the moment)
- Forced to not be busy with other activities (work) and really listen to your kids
- Have your kids keep you accountable because they will not forget their day
- Force you to think of fun activities and make your kids a priority
- Plan dates that cater to your individual kids personality. Getting our nails done would not work with my boys, but my little girl sure likes it.
This is what it looks like for us:
Monday - Jorde's day
Tuesday - Reese's day
Wednesday - Zeke's day
Thursday - Calvin's day
Friday - Family special Dinner (sometimes bible study night)
Saturday - Date night for parents
This idea is just an example of a way to keep us involved in the lives of our children. And it's never too late. Cast the vision to your children and then start spending the time with them one on one on a weekly basis. Foster a culture in your family where making your kids a priority is shown not just promised.
For the Ayers family we use this strategy to prove to our children that we care about developing strong relational bonds with them that shows them our unconditional love. I would love to be my kids' friends when they grow up.
For more on Dating your children Click Here for a past post on the subject.