On a long car ride back from skiing this weekend, two good friends and I got to talking about what we most enjoy about being dads – things big and small. In no particular order, here are six of the things we landed on that we most relish about being … Dad.
- Broadening your horizons. If you approach life willing to experience new adventures, having kids is a great way to do it. While we hope our kids will adopt some of our interests, their varied personalities mean that they will have interests of their own that we’d otherwise never be exposed to. I know about a wide range of dog breeds, how to brush girl hair, what it takes to play a guitar, how to build a Pinewood derby car and a catapult, and so much more that I would never have experienced without my kids and their individual interests and giftings.
- Connecting with each child uniquely. Building on #1, what feeds and energizes each of your children is different. My daughter and I like to read and play board games together. My son and I enjoy hearty burgers, listening to music, and watching action films together. For one of my friends, he knows one of his daughters loves ‘dad dates’ at Jamba Juice, while another daughter gets her ‘love tank’ filled by kicking the soccer ball around.
- Showing affection. When children are younger, nothing beats the “Dad’s home!” party at the door when you return from work. It’s also fun to have unique exchanges of affection for each child. One child may be your hugger. You might have a special ‘high five’ or hand touch you share with another. Maybe you blow-and-catch kisses with your daughter. As they get older, the affection you share with your kids may change in frequency and form, but it’s still one of the most fulfilling parts of having children. Even to an independence-seeking teenager, it never stops being important.
- Stay feeling young. As dads, one of the unstated parts of the job description is to just be silly every now and then. Wrestle on the floor, have a tickle fest or make faces at each other. My kids get a huge charge out of it when I take to the trampoline with them.“Being able to be a kid around your kids keeps you young,” says one friend. “Especially when it’s just me and the kids, it’s great to cut loose, and just enjoy each other once in a while.”
- Bedtime routines. Whether it’s reading together, recapping the day, or closing out the night with prayer, that last touch point can often be the most meaningful connection to your children. As one friend shared, “If my kids have something they want to talk about, they can count on me coming in 1-on-1 at the end of the day and asking, ‘Is everything OK, and give them the opportunity to say something if it’s on their minds.” For me, bedtime has become when I have the most meaningful conversations with my teenager.
- Making shared memories. You never know when a moment with your kids is going to turn into a classic family memory. It could be a simple ride to the store where you have a conversation that sticks. Helping your daughter catch her first fish. Or, a vacation trip 1,000 miles away. But those shared memories can last a lifetime. The only requirement is making family time an ongoing priority.
As one friend wisely summed up: “You can always find excuses not to do something. But then you miss out on so much.”
Check out our related Facebook post and share what you think rocks most about being Dad.