Life is busy and it moves quickly, but fathers should realize the importance of time with their children. Are you spending enough time with your kids?
I grew up on a farm in rural Iowa with a father who was farming most of his waking hours. I remember as a child lying in bed and seeing my father working out in the machine shed–getting equipment ready for the coming harvest. My favorite times were when on weekends we would go on a trail ride with our horses. It was a lot of work to get all the equipment and the horses in the trailer, but a fun day of riding awaited so we helped out. These were one of the few times my two brothers, and I would spend with my father. My younger brother and I usually had fun playing around with all the other people on the ride.
Time is precious
Now that I am a father, I can look at these memories through a different lens. As a father who likes to provide for his family, I know my father was trying to do his best for us. He pushed himself very hard to create a prosperous life for my mother and us three boys. My father passed away when I was eight years old, so I know these memories of spending time with him are precious. Today as a father to two kids, I realized how important our time is.
Balance is hard
We all have many demands on our time. Fathers today are asked to share more of the parenting responsibilities than they did in my father’s generation. This is a change in the right direction but with more responsibilities–along with our career–it can be tough. Finding a good balance with family and careers is difficult with our connected world, the office sometimes bleeds into home life. As parents, we need to set boundaries with our careers to stop the career encroachment.
We can start by making a commitment to our children and make them feel valued. As I felt lucky to spend time with my dad, we should do the same for our kids. As they grow up, they want different things from us. I remember when our kids were younger we would go to the park every night after dinner. Today they both have different activities they like, and it can be hard to find good family activities.
My son is found of all different sports. To connect with him I have agreed to coach about every sport imaginable. I have coached my son’s basketball team for a few years, and if my high school basketball coach knew this, he would laugh. I was never destined for the NBA, but most of coaching youth sports is getting the basics down and everybody understanding their role.
As a coach, you learn a lot about other parents and how they raise their kids, too. Every parent has a different level of expectations with their kids. Every kid responds differently too when they get talked to. Much like myself, my son likes to see where the boundaries are and test the waters. He requires firm rules, other kids don’t require many directions and others are hard to keep together. Overall I enjoy being involved with my son and the other kids.
Even though my mother had to raise three boys alone, she took the time to spend some individual time with each of us. As a father, I am trying to model that behavior. My mother would take me out to eat and then take me to a pet store to buy new fish for my aquarium. For my son, I have found something we can do together, he is fond of golfing. So I have begun to take him golfing on the weekends. He has taken a few lessons and is now offering advice to me.
My daughter is an avid reader and would rather be in her room reading. So I have been trying to find a common activity we both can do together. I do not claim to be a perfect father, but I am working on improving myself. Another older father spoke recently about how the most important thing to do is to spend time with your kids. With that advice in mind, I will keep working on finding a way to connect.
In the end, there is no magic formula that will make you a great father. By making a commitment to spending time with your children, you take a step in the right direction. Fatherhood is not an easy job if you want to be part of your kid’s life. There are too many tales of neglected kids so get your priorities straight.
Photo: Flickr/ Ed Yourdon