Helping Dad Connect With The Kids – MBFLP 259

A reader asks: “How can we help dads connect with their kids?”

Moms seem to naturally connect with little ones – even before they’re born! It’s not so easy for dads, though. More than one has said, “I can’t communicate with this baby – I’ll let Mama handle it until he’s six or seven, and can understand me.”

That may be common but it’s unnecessary and really, it’s giving up precious time in your child’s life. It’s true, you’ll have a different relationship when they reach that age, but that’s true for every age – and the longer you put off your child, the harder it might become to build bridges later.

So what can be done about it?

First off, don’t let it become a source of contention between husband and wife. If she raises the issue, he needs to step back a bit and ask, “Lord, is it true?” rather than getting defensive.

Recognize that “connecting” isn’t magic and mystical – it’s just a matter of spending time and interacting with your kids.

Train yourself to be intentional about “dad time.” Hal used to de-compress on the commute home, trying to mentally close the office door behind him and re-focus his mind on his roles of husband and father when he got home. That’s not obvious when you’re working from home, though – you have to remind yourself to step away from work and notice your family around you.

Practice some self-denial. The world really plays on our natural desire for our own needs and interests. Certainly there’s a need for some rest and recuperation just to keep yourself healthy and strong! But being available for your children’s needs means your own will have to wait sometimes. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit – it should not surprise us that we don’t naturally abound in it! (continued … )

Disciple Like Jesus Did

Take your kids along when you can. The American theologian Jonathan Edwards had eleven kids and responsibility for several churches in colonial New England. Whenever he traveled to another village, he took a child along. Even when they’re very little, Dad can bring along the baby or the toddler when he runs an errand. Take the opportunity to talk with them about what you’re doing – even if they can’t talk back, they’ll grow accustomed to your voice and they’ll learn more than you realize!

Invite your kids into your work. Men seem to communicate better shoulder-to-shoulder – working together on some project. Whatever task comes to hand, ask one of your kids to join you – “Come on, let’s change the oil on the car,” or “Let me show you how to unstop a toilet.” Allow for additional time and distraction; it won’t be as efficient as doing the job solo, but it’s important time for training and relationship. What if they’re not interested? Keep asking, and sometimes, don’t give them the option – just bring them.

Jesus trained His disciples this way – He lived and worked with them, and He explained and asked and answered questions as they came alongside Him in ministry.

And don’t be shy about inviting yourself into their world, either. “Hey there – whatcha building?” “I haven’t read that book – what do you think about it?” Initiate conversations! Ask open ended questions. Assume that they can understand and respond, and see if you can draw them out.

Remember that you can’t schedule a heart’s opening – you have to be there when they’re ready to share. That means the time you invest simply being with your children and interacting with them will open doors and opportunities for deeper conversation and counsel.

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