Don’t be a distant Dad…disconnect the electronic devices and re-connect!

As a father, you have a really big impact on your child’s/children’s development. However it’s easy to lose sight of this or even find the time when you’re juggling work commitments, time for your partner, let alone time for yourself.

In my work I hear so many stories from parents (in particular Dad’s) who are saddened that they somehow gradually lost the connection that they used to have with their kids/family. They get home from a long day at work, feel tired, have something to eat, and then spend the rest of the night in front of the TV, or wind-down with a few drinks, and lament the fact that their children are in their own rooms glued to a screen. How ironic!

However, don’t despair…something can be done so long as a new routine is created whereby family time is prioritised. Spending quality family time is something that is so important and can be achieved in a number of ways.

1) First and foremost recognise the time you do have and make it quality time, as I find most Dad’s spend time with their kids, but it’s spent caring for rather than spending time with.

2) Disconnect the electronic equipment at home for a night…switch off the TV when eating, play board-games, go for a walk, take the kids to the park (and play with them).

3) Talk…tell stories, jokes, share memories of your childhood, show that you made/make mistakes…be real.

4) We learn when we listen…just remember every child wants to share their experiences, but as a Dad you have to be patient and catch these times (without judging/lecturing).

5) Regularly eat together as a family…without any electronic devices on!

6) Praise, praise and praise some more! Someone once told me “It doesn’t matter whether you get a kick up the bum, or a pat on the back, you’re still moving forward” (Now I am not condoning violence or that you give your kids a kick) – what’s most important is that the ratio needs to be right, and as a general rule it needs to be nine pat’s on the back to every one kick.

7) Play…any sort of play…rough and tumble (as long as it doesn’t end up in tears), with sports equipment, imaginary play – dress up’s, play sets, little people, cars…

Let’s face it, we are all busy, tired and stressed, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of zoning out, however, connection with family comes from spending quality time together through knowing and understanding each other.

Our kids need it, you need it.

The great thing is you don’t need any training to do the above, and the chances are you are already doing a lot of these things, it’s just a matter of prioritising the time and making sure it’s quality time.

Disconnect the electronics and reconnect!

John Pertl
Psychologist

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