I am one year away from being the father of a teenage girl. My daughter turns 12 today. This is taking parenting to an entirely new level for me. I have many emotions as I think about what we’ve already experienced, what we are experiencing now, and what we’ll experience in the future.
The end of last week my daughter, Jaicey, went out of town with my mother-in-law to her house and stayed the weekend. She was so excited and proclaimed several times before leaving, “Daddy, this is the first time I get to go to Nana’s house by myself!” (Without us or her younger brothers). While there she also got to spend two days at my mother’s house. When she got back she was beaming, and shared what they did with a lot of excitement. That experience meant a lot to her.
It happens to us all…
Maybe it was me, but when she came back she looked like she had grown over the 5 days she was gone! To me she was practically standing eye to eye with her mother. I had that “dad moment” when you realize your little girl is not such a little girl anymore, and will soon be a young woman. I am sure the dad’s reading can relate!
As I sat (alone) for a few moments, (yes, I had to take some time to process), I remembered one of my goals to “spend one day per month, every month with each one of my kids.” I call them “Daddy Days.” I have been slacking with this! The times I have done this have been such a great experience for both me and my kids. I have no idea why I have not done it consistently or intentionally.
Time is not standing still…
Well, after seeing how much my daughter enjoys and needs one-on-one time with each of us, “Daddy Days” are non-negotiable! Here are a few of the reasons why they are necessary, and why you MUST have them.
- You get to really know your kids. Spending one-on-one time gives you an opportunity to talk and discuss things that are most important to your child. We have three kids and all three want to talk about what they want to talk about. One-on-one time means your son/daughter “has the floor“, and there is nobody to interrupt and/or change the subject.
- Your kids get to really know you. You have an opportunity to share experiences that you’ve had that relate to them at the season in life they are in. Any “parental barrier” can be removed and you can have transparent conversations that may reveal new things to your child.
- Create memorable experiences. Maybe you both share a common interest that no one else in the family shares. This could be your time to enjoy that, and create memorable experiences. Perhaps your daughter likes animals, and the rest of the family could do without. Petting zoos or shelters could be a regular stop on your “Daddy Days.”
- Show your kids they are important. As parents we have a lot of things and people that pull from our allotted 24-hours each day. By taking time out of your day, whether it is 2 or 6 hours, you are telling your son/daughter that they are important to you. Important enough that your valuable time is spent with them, and them alone.
- Build trust in your relationship. When you spend the time getting to really know one another, you are building the trust in your relationship. This opens the door to future communication, and intimate communication. You want your child to feel they can come to you about anything at any time. If consistently done, this time spent will give them to confidence that they can.
- Build your kids self-esteem. When you are important to somebody, when somebody listens to you, when somebody shares experiences with you, and enjoys spending time with you, naturally you feel that you are valuable. Spending this time will help build their self-esteem. No matter what is going on in their world, or with their peers and siblings, they can feel good about themselves.
- Model behavior and set expectations. Some “Daddy Days” can be considered dates with your daughters. “Daddy Days” with your sons will be like hanging with the fellas. With both, you have the opportunity to model the way a man is supposed to act with a woman, and how men are suppose to act when hanging with the fellas. Your daughter will be able to recognize if somebody comes at her differently than her daddy did. My sons will know how to respectfully address people, and carry themselves.
If you are not doing “Daddy Days” or some type of one-on-one time with each of your children, I encourage you to do it. I have been consistently told, by more experienced parents, that the time we have our kids until letting them go goes by way to fast. Please don’t delay. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t make excuses. Just do it. Both you and your kids will enjoy it and benefit tremendously from it.
Question: What ideas do you have to grow your relationship with your children? Please share in the comment section below.