I’ve wanted to write about this topic for some time now. It’s something I see myself forgetting on a regular basis and secretly feel guilty about. Being present with my kid.
The best fatherly advice I was given before we had Razz Jr. was so simple and straightforward, that it’s the only piece of advice that stood out among the tired cliché’s that most people were telling me.
The advice? “Just be there.”
As simple as it sounds, it goes really deep. Just think back to your favorite memories of your parents. Do you remember the toy you opened on your 7th Christmas? Or the present you got for your 16th birthday? I highly doubt it.
But I’d bet that you remember playing video games with your Dad. Putting a puzzle together with your Mom. Playing basketball with an Uncle. Cooking with your Grandmother. Do you remember the connection you felt when you played a board game or card game with your entire family? Even though my dad sucked at basketball and my mom always cheated at card games those are my favorite childhood memories and why I have a strong bond with my family.
This is why I didn’t mind quitting my job and becoming a stay at home dad. And if you’re an at home dad I’m assuming that you probably feel the same way. You want to be a part of your child’s life. You want to have that connection. And it’s easy to do this when your kids are babies because you’re holding them and changing them most of the day. But as they grow older, they become more independent and it’s very easy to start letting distractions come between you.
Email, household chores, Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, Game of Thrones, exhaustion, cell phones, errands, Twitter, Instagram, Candy Crush, did I say Netflix?
These are my main offenders at least. They plot against my relationship with my son and try to slowly wedge a gap between us. But I found that if I stand up to them and keep my relationship with my kids in mind, they’re actually really weak enemies.
What’s my solution? As often as we can, the wife and I take an hour and turn off all of the electronics in the home, especially cell phones. We use this time to play with blocks, toy soldiers, draw, paint, paste, build, role play, go for a walk, bike ride, to the park, or anything that involves us connecting. This one on one time is so important to your child’s development and it’s something that you don’t want to leave out of your relationship with your kids.
Why is it important? Because one day they’ll be teenagers! Ok everybody calm down, you can stop crying. But when that age arrives, you will want them to trust you enough that they can talk to you about drugs, alcohol and the opposite sex.
I know you don’t want to think about it now (especially you guys out there with a little princess to protect), but laying the groundwork now is so important to the foundation of your relationship with your children.
Now that you’re done reading yet another distraction, turn the phone off, close the laptop, pause Empire, and go read a book with your kids.