The game clock counts down from 936: the number of weeks we have from when our children are newborn to when they turn 18. That’s not much time. I recently calculated that I only have 300 more weeks with my oldest until she officially becomes an adult. It reminded me to make a full-court press in parenting.
Did you know that in a 2013 Pew Research Center study, 46 percent of fathers feel they spend too little time with their children? Sure, we’re going to miss out on things from time to time, but we dads have to make every effort to be involved. We don’t want to look back and wish we’d spent more time with our kids. Our involvement can have a positive impact on our kids academically, emotionally and behaviorally.
Here are five ways we can get in the game before it’s too late:
- Be Engaged
Is it just me or are there more time commitments and places we have to be with our kids compared to when we were growing up? Know when and where things are taking place and make every effort to attend them. Engagement applies at home too. If your child wants to play or build something do it then, not later. Our focused attention (for example, in conversations) is another way to be more engaged.
When we are fully engaged in their lives, it shows them we care, shows them they can count on us to be there and creates memories.
- Get to Know Their Friends
Our kids spend up to one third of their childhood surrounded by friends. Know who they’re spending time with—online and offline—so you know who’s a good influence in their lives. When you know who they’re spending time with, you know when to step in to defuse any problematic behaviors or actions before they start.
- Volunteer to Coach
Team coaching can be intimidating and stressful at times, but the benefits include having your child see you lead, knowing you care and getting to spend more of those precious weeks together.
- Listen Up
It’s easy for parents to monopolize the conversation with children, because we think we know more. But sometimes the best thing you can do is just let your child talk. Listen to what is on his mind. Ask questions, make corrections if necessary and get eyeballs to eyeballs with him. If he’s telling a story, show your interest in his creative mind. It’s important for our children to know we’re there to listen when they need to get something off their chest—big or small.
- Be Adventurous
Going on adventures can be inspiring and a great learning experience, whether it’s a simple visit to a new park or museum or a road trip to explore a new city. The key is, your family is going on a journey of exploration together. And these fun adventures give us exercise, create fun memories and help build confidence within our children. So, where is your next adventure going to be?
These are only five ways to be more involved as a dad. It’s worth the investment of your time and attention as you see it strengthen your relationship and shape her character as she grows. Being a dad is one of the most important roles we’ll ever have. We should always look for ways to get in the game.
Derek Polen is a father of two, author and publisher of “Next Level Dad” and “A Money Saving Mindset.”