With our busy, activity-packed schedules, it is easy to lose touch with our children. One of the best ways to prevent this is to simply take advantage of everyday opportunities to love them and instill the right values in them. To be the best dad we can be is to make every day count.
So, where do we begin? We start with four key behaviors of a healthy, thriving family. These four behaviors demonstrate that small daily investments can make a big impact in a child's life. They are laughter, time, conversation and dinner. Let's look at each one:
Modern science tells us that laughter has many benefits. It can increase blood flow, reduce stress and even help suppress pain. Laughter also has a profound impact on social interactions: laughter connects us with others. Having fun as a family strengthens your relationships with your children and helps create positive memories. One of the possible ways to have fun is by watching your family videos - buy some popcorn, laugh and reconnect as a family while you recall some of our favorite times together.
We all have to choose how to occupy our limited free time, but you will never regret spending extra time with your children. (Watching TV together is not enough!) Ask yourself: Is the time we spend together as a family positive? Does it draw us closer together, or are we simply in the same home at the same time? Setting aside one-on-one time with each of your children is also beneficial. You can call them "Date Nights With Dad," and include activities like playing a game of basketball, watching a movie or cycling in the park. Most of them would involve little or no money - just lots of time together. Regular date nights also pave the way for a deeper and trusting relationship as your children grow.
Talking is not always the same as conversing. A lot of family communication centers on superficial aspects of our lives such as managing daily schedules and whether or not we are keeping up with our regular duties (chores, homework, etc.). Do you ever set aside time to learn more about your children, to exchange ideas and opinions free from the regular interruptions of life? Can you name the "one thing" that gives meaning to your child's life? Most parents can't. Dads, if we don't ask these questions - and actively listen to the answers - then we may never know our children's fears and dreams.
Researchers have found that family members who eat dinner together at least four times a week exhibit improved communication, healthier eating habits, higher grades and fewer problems with at-risk behaviors. The key to family dinners is keeping them free from distractions. Unplug from the world and pay attention to each other. Have everyone around the table share his or her "highs" (best thing of the day) and "lows" (low point of the day). Use dinnertime to engage in some of the other thriving family behaviors: time, conversation and maybe even some laughter.
If your family is lacking in these behaviors, don't despair. We all fall short as dads, but it's never too late to start. No matter the ages of your children, begin today to take advantage of everyday interactions.
It's time to make every day count.
Adapted from Dads: Make Every Day Count by Roy Baldwin © 2012 All rights reserved. Used by permission of Focus On The Family.
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