Orlando Battista said, “The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.” Orlando Battista is right. Our children don’t want things, they want us.
The team at our friends at the Fathering Centre in Kansas City USA had this to say in an article titled, “Kids Say THIS Is the Best Way to Be a Better Dad”.
“As is often the case, the most profound truths are pretty simple. In essay contests we have conducted in different areas of the country, thousands of children wrote about “What My Father Means to Me.” We always received priceless stories and comments, expressed as only kids can. Reading these essays, our staff couldn’t help noticing a common theme.
Typically, the kids describe some of the fun things they do with their dad, or how he demonstrates his love and dedication. Then, toward the end, they’ll add something like this: “If there’s one thing I wish was different with my dad, it would be that we spend more time together.” Or they’ll say, “I wish I could do more things with him.”
Now, these kids love their dads. And maybe we can say some of this is based on unrealistic hopes, like a child saying, “I wish I could live at Disneyland,” or, “I’d like to have ice cream for dinner every day.” Sometimes kids say those things.
But if we’re honest, dad, most of us would have to admit that we could give our kids more of our time. We play a huge role in their lives, and the more time we spend with them, the more they benefit from our involvement—using teachable moments, affirming their character, building a strong relationship, passing on our values and our faith … all the great things that fathers do.
Clark Smith, one of our bloggers and a good friend of the Centre, provided this word picture: “Fathering is a pasture fenced with time. The size of the fence determines the size of the relationship. Increase your parenting time even a little and the relationship grows greatly. Nip a foot or two out of the fence and watch the pasture shrink.”
That’s another way of saying that time is a basic need for any good relationship. The amount of great activities and conversations and memories you share is directly related to how much time you spend together. Time with your children may or may not have immediate rewards for you, but you’re building a legacy that will likely last for generations, minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour.
Please don’t let this be a guilt trip. But couldn’t we all pledge to be more aware of the time we’re devoting to our children and make that a higher priority?
Build time with your kids into your schedule so it doesn’t get squeezed out when other things come along. Plan those daddy-daughter dates and outings with your son. Get into routines that naturally bring you together over and over. They need your undivided attention.
Also, be intentional about one-on-one time with your kids. Schedule regular time alone with each one. Treat him to frozen yogurt, practice volleyball with her, or just go for a walk. Mix in a daddy-daughter date or an overnight trip every now and then. Carve out blocks of time regularly, and then make sure you’re focused on your child and nothing else.”
Check out this video, which is a blast from the past. A Dads4Kids fun camp, from years ago, with children talking about the simple joy of hanging out with their Dad. Rob Feeney’s daughter says it so well, “I like to be with my dad because I love him.”
Highlights Magazine in the USA does a survey each year asking children what they think. A few years back they asked children if their parents were distracted while talking to them. This is what Highlights had to say about the responses to that question.
“We know that parents are busy and that kids have to contend with many things competing for their parents’ attention, so it wasn’t too surprising that 62% of kids responded “yes” when asked if their parents are distracted when they try to talk to them.
When asked what distracts their parents, cell phones came out #1 at 28%, followed by siblings (25%), work (16%), TV (13%), talking to others, computers and laptops, cooking, housework and driving. In total, 51% of those who responded cited some form of technology — phone, TV, or laptop — as the distraction.”
That is one of the reasons we go to the Wollondilly River for our Dads4Kids Fun Camp. No mobile reception. The children have their dad’s full attention. Keanu Reeves was right to say, “The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.”
Brene Brown once said, “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” So, this is the week we are going to learn to be a better dad by giving our children the attention they deserve!
Yours For Our Children
PS: Today is a special day as we hit the magic #1000 edition of the Dads4Kids weekly newsletter. You will notice we are adjusting our newsletter and pointing back to the new website. Soon all the articles will do this to make the newsletter more readable in the current digital world. Thank you for your patience during our transition.
Image by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.