Sometimes grown-ups forget things, and not just where they left their cell phones or which remote works which machine. Grown-ups forget what it’s like to be a kid, and though we don’t like to admit it, it happens. As a dad, the relationship you form with your child when he or she is young will be the relationship you have when he or she is grown. To form a strong bond with your child now, take the time to be a kid again.
- Play. You work a lot, so when you are with your kids, play. Stay vigilant, be safe, choose age appropriate activities, but gosh darn it, play. It is the best way to bond with children, because it equalizes you, at least for the time that you are playing. Children “let their guard down” a little when they play, and you may learn how your child is feeling about things as you play. Dads tend to be pretty good listeners, so as you play, if you notice your child beginning to open up, just listen. You don’t have to give advice. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t. Every now and then, say, “Do you feel like you need any help with that situation?” and take it from there. Playing opens the doors to having fun, but it also shows your child that you are willing to be there for him.
- Turn off the box. No matter what the box is, turn it off for a while. If it’s your cell phone, your iPad, your Blackberry, your laptop, your TV, your gaming system, or anything else technological, turn it off. Spend some time with your child doing something that you’ve never tried before. If you get the old eye roll, ignore it. Some children never want to try new things, so it’s up to you to encourage them. Children of all ages love to build things, and be honest, so do you. Get some blocks, some Legos, or even just some rocks and sticks. Or, for an older child, find something to build together that suits his or her age and ability. Build something with your child and show her that the world is more than just high-tech. Slow the world down sometimes and show your child another way to live. Focus on your child and nothing else. You might even find that you enjoy it.