Intentionally creating adventures for your children helps your family to grow and bond together in memorable ways which build an excellent foundation for a lifetime.
I believe it is a father’s job to create adventures for his children. Pam Brown put it so beautifully in her famous quote, “Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, storytellers, and singers of songs.”
Some time ago, I wrote of one of the key secrets to being a successful father to your children. That is, you have to become a friend to your children. After all, if you can’t be a friend to them, who will?
Let me digress for a moment. I am not suggesting for a second that you stop being a father to your children. Yes, your job as a father is to set agreed boundaries and rules for the running of your family in consultation with your wife.
Your children need those rules, and they need to be adhered to. Mostly for their own protection and benefit. More often in their early years than as they grow up. Children need a loving father who will set the rules, but they also need a friend. The truth is always in the tension.
Hobbies & Talents
Many successful dads I know start their children in sports at an early age and then follow through into their teens. Sport is an adventure, so getting there and competing is one huge adventure. This is a great thing to do and I encourage you to find these common strands for family fun and do them. You will never regret it.
Our family used music as a strategy. My wife and I were both musical. Our goal was to give our children a musical education on the instrument of their choice. We did not think it through as a strategy as such at the time. It was more about a common love for music, that then provided opportunities for adventure, that we could never have imagined.
Let me give you an example. During the eighties, both my wife and I developed a dream to take a year out of our normal existence and travel around Australia with our young family.
In the late eighties, we were just starting to get back on top after a business collapse and good-paying construction work was pouring in.
Although the architect had more work for me, I made the decision to leave behind monetary gains for the trip of a lifetime. Many friends said we were ‘mad’ to up and leave everything.
I was getting tugged both ways; nevertheless, our family set out in a coaster bus and caravan, with our musical equipment, to travel around Australia for 12 months. We would share our music wherever we were able.
There is something about travelling that sets you free to enjoy life. We fossicked for opals in Coober Pedy, climbed Uluru, and broke down on the Nullarbor Plain. We fished, surfed, patted dolphins, did free concerts in gaols and Aboriginal communities, saw crocodiles and snakes in Kakadu, and were trapped by Cyclone Joy, weathering the storm on Christmas Eve in the CWA Hall in Mossman, QLD.
We enjoyed the rainforests and magnificent reefs of northern Queensland. It was a family adventure on steroids. Our four boys were aged from 4 years to 11 years of age. My wife homeschooled them, enduring the most difficult aspect of the trip.
Even today, we can say it was the greatest year of our lives. Travelling as a family forced us together, and the ensuing adventures forced us to become closer as a family. Perhaps it was the shared awe of exploring unknown territory, and also the interesting people whom we met. It’s hard to put into words, but it certainly was life-changing.
You don’t have to go away for a whole year to fully enjoy this sort of family travel adventure, but if you do, I can assure you, you won’t regret it. Money isn’t everything. Living frugally can be fun. We didn’t know it at the time, but this sort of travel/mission adventure was becoming one of those ‘family time’ success stories.
That, combined with our music, became an enormous friendship-building exercise. Finding time for friendship and adventure is one of the keys to being a successful father and family.
This week, plan a weekend away, or a special holiday with the family.
Maybe you will have to start small and work up. Get out of the house and go for a ride or a walk with your family. Half the adventure is in the going and someone is going to have to lead the way: you. Family adventures require fathering.
Maybe you have a dream to travel somewhere as a family for an extended time. These things don’t happen overnight. Begin to plan and work towards your goal. Even if your children are young, they will still enjoy it. Life is for living. Enjoy your family while you can.
To quote Michael Jordan — ‘just do it!’
Yours for adventurous families,
PS: If you are interested in exploring the idea of adventure with your children or child in a deeper way, check out the Fathering Adventures website, which runs special Fathering Adventures for Dads & Daughters and also Dads & Sons.