One of my favorite movies of all times is Father of the Bride II. You are probably familiar with the movie since it’s been out for several years. Steve Martin had a role of a Father not wanting to see his daughter grow up. His daughter, Annie is getting married. During a restless night and Annie unable to sleep she and Dad decided to have one more backyard basketball game before the wedding. My favorite scene reminded me of the backyard basketball games I had with my own daughter, Kristina. The scene is a great reminder of how fast our children grow up and then they are moving out, off to college or getting married. Kristina and I used to play backyard basketball. I have fond memories of how I “let her win” most of the games played. Actually, she was very good at the game and even played on her school teams throughout her high school time.
I recently viewed the YouTube version of this scene. I was reminded of the Dad Stories … many which have regretful memories… Dads wishing they had been more involved with their children while growing up.
Our children are bombarded daily by media messages. Children in America today spend almost six hours a day with various forms of media. These potentially negative consequences of children’s media consumption can be replaced with meaningful interaction with a parent, but it has to be planned. If there are not enough parent and interactions, than the media’s unique power can form a child’s mind.
Television is no longer the main media source to consume our children. It is now joined by computers, video game players, cell phones, etc. The result is that children today are completely immersed in media experiences from a very young age. Parents and policymakers today are having a difficult time in regulating the impact these experiences have on our children long term. So how does a Dad or any parent connect with their children today that does not involve media?
• Schedule time to do something special with Daddy or Mommy. Let them even choose, if it is obtainable.
• Communication is more than just talking. Listen to them and watch them daily and see what they are not telling you. We can learn a lot by listening.
• Never miss their birthday. This is such an important day for all kids. Always remember to make sure they know you remembered and that you care.
• Remember landmark events. If they have a play, recital or a big sporting event coming up, remember to go and be present. If you say you’re coming and you do not, your children will not forget if. If you must miss a special event, it is important to address it with them. They must be able to count on you.
• Set a tradition .. even if you are a single Dad. I always took my daughter to a specific restaurant when I picked her up on weekends.
• Be flexible. Consider changing your work schedule if you want to be a part of a special occasion.
• Stay plugged in. Even if you live with your kids, if you are always gone, angry, drunk or otherwise disengaged, it’s like you are out of their lives anyway.
• Ask yourself “What can I do TODAY?” Even when you are in the mess of the “Dad Soup” of divorce with all the legal proceedings and paperwork. This time of ugliness of separation and dismantling a life, look at what you can do today with and for your child. Don’t worry about the big picture; just concentrate on the now.
• Build a strong foundation. By staying engaged throughout their lives, you build a relationship that stands over time. If you build a house without a concrete slab, it sinks. The same goes for your relationship with your kids. Make sure they come to you when they need help in their lives, now and in the future.
• Last but certainly not least, play a game of basketball or another sport your child may like. No matter the game, just get in it and play.
All children need an involved Dad … an involved mentor, or Grandparent. Stand up and make memories that will last a lifetime. The lessons learned during one on one time means more than money can buy. Life is short… they will be grown and gone before you realize it! Keep the connection and be a Dad 4 Life!