Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: father-son

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    Ways for Dad to Connect with Kids

    Wondering how you can connect with your kiddos? Here's a list to get you started!

    • Plan a regular time for Daddy/Child date to do something fun and adventurous.
    • Write a short message to them on a stick-it note and hide it in their lunch.
    • Let your child help you wash the car or fix something.
    • Play a game with them - one that they want to play.
    • If you like to cook, let them help you.
    • Take them to the park.
    • Teach your child how to do something like build a kite, a soapbox derby car, a paper airplane, etc.
    • Tell them what life was like when you were their age.
    • Listen to them - learn about their favorite things, who their friends are, their favorite game, etc.

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    Fathering is Child's Play

    A young girl was touring the social worker through the home she shared with her father. When she came to her bedroom, she proudly showed the woman everything in her room. With big eyes and a huge smile, the little girl asked, “Would you like to see bombs away?”

    Hesitantly, the social worker said yes. “Come on Dad, let’s show her,” said the little girl.

    Dad came over to the bed, grabbed his daughter’s arms and legs and started swinging her. Finally, he let go as she yelled, “Bombs away!” and landed on her bed. Loud, gleeful laughter followed.

    Looking horrified, the social worker said, “Stop! No! You should not be doing that.” Both father and daughter looked at her with troubled and quizzical faces and said, “We shouldn’t be doing bombs away?”

    “This is probably one of the best examples of the difference in how men and women view play with children,” said Dr. Ron Klinger, founder of the Center for Successful Fathering and author of The Common Sense No-Frills, Plain-English Guide to Being a Successful Dad.

    “Researchers tell us that children of all ages from infants to high school prefer play with dad over mom because it is unpredictable, physical, rough, dad cheats, and it’s fun. It is a test – it stretches you. You find yourself doing things you would never do. Most importantly, it is a playful form or preparation for the challenges our children will face in the real world.”

    Klinger contends that what the father was doing with his daughter was totally appropriate. While mothers are the initial primary caregivers and continue to be the nurturers and protectors, it is the father’s job to engage his children in rough and tumble play and to encourage them to take risks.

    However, the challenge for many is that nearly 80 percent of dads today did not grow up with an actively involved father in their lives. When moms say, “Don’t play so rough,” most guys don’t know to say, “But this is what I am supposed to be doing.”

    “The bonding with a child and their father is based on this rough and tumble play,” Klinger said. “This playful interaction turns out to be very powerful in teaching independence, self-reliance and courage. It also encourages children to become more tolerant of frustration. The father is introducing the child to a world that is defined by adventure and adversity, not comfort.”

    There are other benefits of rough and tumble play for children, too. They include:

    • Building a bond of affection and trust with their father;

    • Exposure to personal challenges such as riding a bike;

    • Learning to be a successful risk-taker;

    • Building self-confidence;

    • Girls growing up to be unintimidated by competitive men; and

    • Becoming resilient.

    “When a mother approaches her child, the infant’s heart rate begins to slow down,” Klinger said. “When a father approaches his child, their heart rate begins to race in anticipation of excitement and action. Babies need this to stimulate brain activity. 

    “I can remember when my own son would climb our spiral staircase and leap out to me below. The space separating us was only a couple of feet, but he was jumping from seven feet high. He was investing a huge amount of trust in me. Admittedly, this is the kind of thing that drives mom nuts, yet it's exactly what dads and children should be doing. Play is the antidote for anxiety.”

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    Father-Son Camping

    “My family has always camped,” said Dan Venable. “Whenever our extended family gathers, stories come up from our many camping expeditions usually followed by a lot of laughter. This intrigued my wife, whose family did not camp. On numerous occasions we discussed the importance of doing something like this with our kids to create great memories.”

    As the Venable boys moved into their formative years, the dads - Bob, Dan and Sam Venable - began planning an adventure for their sons. One thing led to another and the decision was made to try and conquer the Appalachian Trail.

    “The first year it was three dads and our four boys ranging in age from 8 to 13,” said Sam Venable. “We went for four days and nights. It was a great way to spend time with our boys away from all the distractions in life. Before we knew it, we had been doing this for eight years with our kids.”

    Both Sam and Dan laughed recalling the time they all met at Unicoi State Park to head out for four days.

    “We weren’t very far down the trail when we ran into a Boy Scout troop and we asked where they were coming from,” said Dan. “They said, ‘We started here and turned around because there is a tropical storm headed this direction with 8-12 inches of rain.’ The Scout Master emphatically told us we needed to turn around as well, but we said we were set to go and we weren’t turning back. After several minutes of trying to convince us not to go out, the Scout Master gave up, but insisted on taking our picture. We figured it was so they could identify us after the fact.”

    The Venable men and boys did get the rain, all eight inches. One son said he thought there was more water in his boots than on the ground. They all lived to tell about the experience and have some pretty funny shared memories.

    “I recently asked my youngest son if these trips formed him into the young man he is today,” Dan said. “When you are away from technology and all of life’s distractions, you have a lot of time for deep conversations about things like relationships, struggles and God, and you have time to ponder who you are as a person. My son said that he didn’t think the trips necessarily formed him, but they helped him figure out who he is as a person."

    “It was physically challenging for all of us,” Sam said. “We worked together to come up with a plan. Everybody had to participate. All of us had 30-40 pound packs and we had to figure out how to make the water and food supply last.”

    The Venable "boys" are men now. As the dads reminisced about their adventures, they said they wouldn’t trade the bonding and memory-making opportunity with their boys.

    These men have given their sons something priceless: the gift of their time and deeper relationships with the men in their family. Plus, they'll be telling future generations about their treks on the Appalachian Trail.