Last night today tonight ran a story promoting "Dad".
At Christmas time, this is a timely reminder of the importance of Dad in the family. Christmas is a time where Dad is typically able to be much more available than he might normally be. Demands of work and business subside. Activities, appointments, and extra-curricular events are finalised. Most families experience some degree of time off over the next couple of weeks. Therefore, it is important that Dad remembers that while he may be getting some time off for him, his family need him too!
Dads fulfil vital functions as a role model and example for children. Whether they like it or not, fathers are pivotal in the following areas...
* The moral development of children - particularly in adolescence
* Children's psychological wellbeing, and
* Mentoring, teaching, and guiding
Joseph White Ph.D. suggests that dads realise that home is the best place to spend time with children. It's the place where children and parents feel most comfortable, and no one can watch disapprovingly if things get spontaneously noisy.
Some points for dads to make the most of moments with their children
1. Remember quality time is no substitute for quantity time. It's the unstructured "fun" time that we have with our children that allows for the best bonding and growth.
2. Turn off the tv or radio, or put down the paper. The time that you spend doing that is typically the time the children will want your attention the most. The news will still be there once the children are in bed, and the world will still be turning. (I'm grateful to my wife, Kylie, for her regular reminders of this to me).
3. When you're doing the various chores that pile up around the house, involve your children. This is a great way to get quantity time with them and it invites them into your world. They gain a sense of contribution, and may even learn something. Sure it may take a moment longer, but the value can not be overstated. Patience in this area will help your children develop great problem-solving skills and become resourceful in ways that will be greatly beneficial when they're older.
4. Make the back yard child friendly. There's nothing better than having the neighbourhood's entire group of children playing out the back of your own home. In the yard of the house we just moved from last week, we regularly counted approximately twelve children playing. Our yard was the fun one! We loved it, even if we had extra cups to wash, and ran out of ice-blocks faster than normal. Our home was where our children wanted to be. Dad is a crucial stakeholder in the process of making the backyard the one your children want to play in.
5. One on one time - I have written previously about Daddy-daughter dates (or Father and Son outings). One on one time makes the children feel special. It may be as simple as a bus or ferry ride, a trip to the shops, or a Saturday morning milkshake or hot chocolate at a local cafe. What is done is less important than the fact that it is done. And it should be frequent opportunity for the children to spend time with dad, alone.
Kids whose dads spend time with them, make themselves available, and are generally 'around' have been shown to be at a significant advantage over those children whose fathers are absent. Obviously not all families are structured in such a way as to allow this, but where dad can be available - even if he's separated from the family - efforts to have his productive involvement with his children can make an enormous positive difference.