The holidays have come and gone and many of us may have gotten too caught up in jumping back into routine and our busy schedules to realize that our families crave quality time and connections with one another.
Think about it, when is the last time you spent time with your family? I mean really spent time with them, chatting, laughing, joking and just enjoying the moment?
Many of us spend more time daydreaming of peaceful family gatherings rather than actually making them happen. Our time is so limited—what with having to provide for our families, juggling stressful jobs with the demands of home life—that we end up missing out on our kids’ lives.
Even worse, instead of being present fathers, we dedicate huge amounts of our time scrolling through our phones, checking social media or replying to emails when we are at home with our families. Then we turn around and wonder why our kids always seem to have their noses buried in one screen or another. They have learned it from us.
You can talk, lecture, yell or cajole all you want, but your actions speak louder than your words and your kids are always watching. They will emulate what you do. If you want to develop a healthy relationship with your family and teach your kids to do the same, start by setting a good example.
Here’s how to be a more present father this new year:
Be fully present when you’re with your family.
When you’re spending time with your family, put your smartphone away so you’re not tempted to take a peek at it. Instead, focus completely on what your partner or kids are doing and enjoy spending time with them. This shows them that they’re a priority. If the phone comes out to Google something that’s come up in conversation, screencast it onto the TV so everyone can partake in the learning.
Create boundaries around tech that apply to everyone in the family.
It’s always a good idea to set boundaries around the use of tech in the home, e.g. having a wifi-off time an hour before bed or no phones at the table during mealtimes. To emphasize their importance, everyone in the family should adhere to these rules, not just the kids.
Keep conversations alive.
How do you expect to improve communication with your kids if you don’t speak to them at all or only when you are correcting them?
Instead,ask your children open-ended questions that encourage long answers and also develop a habit of answering your kids’ questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. Don’t just mumble a distracted, “Uh huh” or give one-word answers, as your children will learn that there is no benefit to trying to talk to you.
Commit to a family ritual.
Another great way to be present and available to your family this year is by committing to a tradition that you can all do together as a family. Family traditions make for lovely memories and they’re a fun, interesting way for the whole family to bond and deepen their relationships with one another. Create a regular family competition, schedule a monthly service project, or even do something as simple as having family dinners on a regular basis.
Your presence, love, and attention are some of the greatest gifts you can give to your family. So make your 2019 goal to spend more time with them and create those cherished lifelong memories.
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