I’ve already noted a few of the different ways that dads can be absent from their children’s lives.
- Tragedy: A father dies, debilitating illness/accident, prison.
- Divorce: Yes, it’s a tragedy; but the prevalence warrants it’s own place.
- Work: Military, construction, entertainment, and etc. Anything that has you traveling for long periods of time.
- Neglect: Dads who are there, but ignoring their families. They spend more time on a hobby than their children.
So, how can Dads “Not Be Absent?”
First, I think we need to be intentionally present in the time we have.
We need to take a realistic look at how much time we have with our kids. Then, we plan and execute ways to intentionally spend meaningful time with them.
This is what it looks like for me and my family. We are a dual income family. Both mom and dad work, and the kids go to daycare. On any given night, we only have two hours with out children before it is bed time. Wednesday is abnormal in that, we have less time with our children at home due to church responsibilities.
I have approximately one hour that I can spend with the kids; or not.
My wife will begin dinner about that time; and I can either let them watch the TV; or do something else with them.
To be honest, this is tough. I’m tired. My wife is tired. The kids are tired. We’ve all put in a full day’s worth. The easiest thing to do for all of us is to stick in a kid’s movie.
I admit it. I’ve done it.
However, I have also done other things.
We’ve had hour long wrestling matches and tickle-fests. This begins by my sitting on the floor. Just, sitting there; minding my own business. Within 5 minutes my kids go from whatever they are doing (even watching TV!), to crawling all over me.
Take Away Point: OUR KIDS THIRST FOR DAD’S TOUCH AND ATTENTION!
I can sit on the couch (or floor), and just start reading a kid’s book out loud. Within a heart’s beat; my 19 month old is climbing into my lap. Within 2 heart beats; my 4 year old is trying to squeeze in as well.
With the weather being nice, we can take walks around the neighborhood. For me to walk 2 of our city blocks takes about 20 minutes. There are at least two playgrounds within walking distance; so it is easy to fill up that hour (and even get a little bit of exercise).
I also use the TV to indoctrinate my kids in the wonders of Baylor and Ranger’s Baseball! Our whole family tends to watch these; and it is very common to get some quality snuggle time with the kids during these events. They are more than willing to sit in dad’s lap and watch the game; at least for a while. Remember, a kid’s attention span is minute. It is normal for my 19 month old to climb into my lap multiple times during a televised sporting event.
Again, Take Away Point: OUR KIDS THIRST FOR DAD’S TOUCH AND ATTENTION!
Secondly, we craft meaningful, special moments for our children.
I am horrible about this. I just have to admit it. I fail more than succeed here.
I’m an introvert by nature, and all I want to do on a weekend is crawl into my cave. I’m totally burned out by the week’s worth of people work I take part in. However, I do have some ideas that I would like to share. I even have some intentions for this Spring.
This is where we take some intentionality with our vacation. This is where we plan a weekend around a Ranger’s game with our child. This is a “Daddy Date Night” with our daughters, “Dad Time” with our individual children. We craft these especially for our kids, giving them great memories to pass on.
My own personal plans include taking my oldest son to a Ranger’s game (or two), and multiple Saturday fishing trips. This may include a Summer Zoo trip, and who knows what else.
Our vacations tend to be around family; which I find exhausting. I use these times for my kids to develop great memories of Grandma and Grandpa.
Lastly, we’ve taken the time to form meaningful family rituals. These give a sense of continuity and stability to our children.
Don’t miss the rituals!
This takes two forms for us on a daily basis.
1. We always eat and pray together at our nightly meal.
We have a standardized prayer that we use. It is very easy, and our eldest even joins in on it (every now and then).
2. We always have a nightly bed time routine.
We read one book chosen by a child. We then read (in this case quote from memory) Good Night Moon. We sing to our kids (Mommy/Daddy loves their <name of child>), and we finish it up with another standardized prayer. Again, it is short, it rhymes, and our eldest is to the point of being able to join in.
We. Do. This. Practically. Every. Night.
Make every moment count; for in the end…those moments are very limited.
How do you spend intentional, meaningful time with your kids?