Just before Fathers’ Day every year, I post a self-inspection checklist for dads to review just for that purpose -- to reflect on your unique father-child relationships in a structured and thorough way. It is not for the purpose of pass/fail judgement, or meant as a comparison to other fathers. The checklist is a tool to improve your parenting skills as the male influence in your family.
This ‘Dad’s Self-Inspection Checklist’ from my book, The Power of Dadhood, is divided into five major sections, the first section I’d like to discuss here:
Are you there for them, not just around?
- Do you/did you hold your children as babies and toddlers?
- Do you enjoy spending time with your kids?
- Do you make time to focus on your kids?
- Would you consider yourself loving and do your kids KNOW that you care for them?
- On occasion, do you give them special one-on-one attention?
- Do you comfort your kids when appropriate?
- Are you willing to be ‘hated’ for doing the right thing for your children?
- Do you really listen when spoken to?
- Do you have fun together?
The obvious point of this block of questions is to examine the depth and breadth of your engagement with your children. It’s very important to start early, knowing your impact on them will mean so much to their development. And you will have an impact, even and maybe especially if, you are not engaged with them. Of course, the impact of non-engagement would be not be beneficial whatsoever and potentially disastrous. Most dads will do anything they can to help their children.
How to Engage
There are a myriad of ways to engage your children at all ages. If you find yourself clueless and/or lacking confidence in finding ways to be in their lives more closely remember, we are in the age of the internet and Google searches. Ideas and suggestions are easy to find. What is really difficult is setting aside time or changing priorities to do so.
Realizing you may have been too busy lately in your busy and demanding lives, there are ways to make up for some lost time as well as creating fun memories you and your children will cherish. Reading together, playing catch, playing board games, or watching a fun movie are some of the many ways to connect.
Fun with Science
A fun thing to do with kids that stimulates their imaginations and teaches them valuable lessons is to do simple science experiments with them. Bestforthekids.com has come up with seven simple experiments to perform with children.
The ‘7 Intriguing Science Experiments for Your Kids’ (see infographic below) will make you the coolest dad ever! It’s likely they will brag to their friends about the experiments and be proud dad was involved. Any future interest in science would be a nice bonus. They will remember these fun times and know that they are important to you.
My granddaughter’s 5th birthday party had as its theme “The Mad Scientist” led by her parents. It was a smashing success! The kids had a blast creating crazy substances and reactions with simple household items.
The important thing to remember as a father is showing love, concern, interest, and giving your time to your kids. Certainly, we men want to do this and usually do. But not all fathers are the same. We get busy. We become distracted. We get complacent. Therefore, we need a reminder and a review. The ‘Dad’s Self-Inspection Checklist’ will help you do such a review, and tools like the ‘7 Intriguing Science Experiments for Your Kids’ will help you find ways to engage, connect, and mentor your children. Go be a real dad!