Building a Relationship Around Your Child’s Interests

You’ve probably heard the saying… “failing to plan is planning to fail.” When maximizing your presence with your child this year, you are not planning to fail, or you wouldn’t be investing your time reading these blogs. Success is “planning your work and working your plan.” To help ensure your plan for becoming a better father and maximizing your parenting time is successful, we recommend you identify your child’s interests and focus on dad-child activities around those.

Discover Your Young Child’s Interests

Finding out what your youngster is most interested in can be a fun and rewarding journey! Here are some ways you can help a young child explore and identify their passions:

Observation:

  • Watch their play: Pay close attention to what they naturally gravitate towards. Do they love building towers with blocks, drawing imaginary creatures, or digging in the dirt? Observe how they spend their free time and what toys or activities hold their attention the most.
  • Notice their reactions: What makes them light up with joy and excitement? Do they get absorbed in specific books, animated movies, or TV shows? What topics spark their curiosity and lead to questions?

Conversation and Engagement:

  • Talk to them: Have open-ended conversations about their day, likes and dislikes, and dreams. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings freely. Ask questions like “What was your favorite part of today?” or “What would you do if you could be anything in the world?”
  • Read together: Choose books on various topics and see which ones they gravitate towards. Ask questions about the stories and characters to gauge their interest.
  • Engage in play: Join them in their activities and let them lead the way. This will give you a firsthand look at their preferred play styles and creative tendencies.

Exploration and Experimentation:

  • Provide opportunities for new experiences: Expose them to different activities, hobbies, and sports. This could include music classes, art workshops, nature walks, museum visits, or sports tryouts. See what sparks their curiosity and motivates them to learn more.
  • Offer open-ended materials: Provide them with materials like art supplies, building blocks, play dough, or dress-up clothes. This allows them to use their imagination and explore different interests freely.
  • Encourage questions and curiosity: Celebrate their questions and curiosity about the world around them. This is a sign of a young mind actively seeking knowledge and understanding.

Remember:

  • Be patient: It takes time for children to discover their interests. Don’t force anything and let them explore at their own pace.
  • Be open-minded: Avoid projecting your interests onto your child. Be open to whatever sparks their curiosity, even if it’s something you don’t understand.
  • Focus on the process, not the outcome: The most important thing is to create a nurturing and encouraging environment where your child feels safe to explore their interests without pressure.

By observing, engaging, and providing opportunities for exploration, you can help your child discover their unique passions and talents. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination!

Common Interests

When you and your child share an interest, that’s gold! For instance, if you both enjoy music, you could plan activities around exploring different styles, genres, cultures, etc. Attend live performances. Learn to play an instrument together.

It’s Okay to Share Your Interests

For instance, if you are a sports fan, share your interest in sports without forcing it upon your child. Here is where the need for planning comes in. Being serious about maximizing your moments with your child, you may choose to skip the watch party at the bar with your buds. Instead, plan to watch the competition with your child. Consider how to be creative in making it a child-friendly experience.  

If you are into pro football, you should know that the NFL has partnered with CBS and Nickelodeon to present a kids-focused Super Bowl 58 event live on February 11, 2024. Although the Nickelodeon alternative telecast of Super Bowl LVIII is focused on entertaining kids, the network aims to keep parents interested in the action.

According to CBS Sports, the Nickelodeon presentations — which feature eye-popping graphics that feature slime-filled end zones or SpongeBob SquarePants between the goalposts on field-goal attempts — have also received plenty of acclaim for their ability to introduce a younger age group to the basics of the game but also focused on the action happening on the field to keep parents interested.    Learn more at:  https://www.nfl.com/news/cbs-sports-nickelodeon-team-up-for-first-ever-super-bowl-alternate-telecast

Who knows… your child may turn out to be a fan of your favorite team! Wouldn’t that be sweet? Think of all the great times you could enjoy together over your lifetimes. But, alas, there’s always the possibility that your kid will realize they hate football. Oh well, it was worth a try.

Better fathers connect with their teens

Planning Daddy-Teen Daughter Bonding Time

Teenagers, especially girls, can be a tricky crowd to please, but some quality daddy-daughter time can go a long way in strengthening your bond and fostering positive memories. Here are some ideas, keeping in mind her age and interests:

Creative and Collaborative:

  • Write a song or poem together: Pick a theme (her favorite book, a funny memory) and take turns adding lines or verses.
  • Start a creative project: Build a model rocket, paint a mural, or even write a comic book together.
  • Learn a new skill together: Take a pottery class, try coding, or learn a new language. The shared learning experience can be a great bonding activity.

Outdoor Adventures:

  • Go on a hike or bike ride: Explore local trails or bike paths and enjoy the fresh air and scenery. Pack a picnic lunch for an extra treat.
  • Stargaze: Find a dark spot away from city lights and spend the night learning about constellations and sharing stories.
  • Volunteer together: Choose a cause you both care about and spend an afternoon volunteering at a local animal shelter, soup kitchen, or park cleanup.

Active and Fun:

  • Arcade night: Challenge her to air hockey, Dance Dance Revolution, or classic arcade games.
  • Board game marathon: Dust off your favorite board games and have a friendly competition.
  • Theme park trip: Spend the day riding roller coasters, playing carnival games, and enjoying the excitement.

Quality Time and Conversation:

  • Coffee date: Take her to her favorite coffee shop for a latte and chat about her life, dreams, and anything else on her mind.
  • Movie marathon: Pick a genre you both enjoy and spend the day curled up on the couch with popcorn and laughter.
  • Book club for two: Choose a book you’re both interested in and discuss it over dinner or a relaxing evening at home.

Remember:

  • Be flexible and open to her suggestions.
  • Focus on quality time and connection, not just the activity itself.
  • Make it a regular thing to spend time together.
  • Most importantly, have fun and enjoy each other’s company!
Stay focused to become a better father

Tips for Maintaining Your Bond with Older Children

Maintaining a strong bond with your older children as they navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence and beyond can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Here are some suggestions that can help dads stay connected with their growing kids:

Embrace the Shift:

  • Recognize that the dynamic is changing. Your child is no longer a little kid who needs constant supervision. They’re becoming more independent and need more space to explore their own identities.
  • Adjust your communication style. Ditch the one-sided lectures and baby talk. Instead, focus on active listening, open-ended questions, and genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings.

Nurture Shared Interests:

  • Find common ground. Do you both enjoy sports, music, movies, or gaming? Dedicate time to these shared activities, creating bonding experiences and fostering conversations.
  • Be open to their interests. Even if you don’t understand everything about K-pop or the intricacies of competitive gaming, try to learn more and show genuine interest. This shows you care about their world.

Maximize Your Moments Together:

  • Schedule regular one-on-one time. This could be a weekly coffee date, a monthly movie night, or simply an hour of uninterrupted conversation each week. Let them choose the activity to make it feel special.
  • Make the most of everyday moments. Seize opportunities for casual chats during car rides, while cooking dinner, or before bed. These small moments of connection add up over time.

Offer Support and Guidance:

  • Be a safe space for them to confide in. Let them know you’re always there to listen without judgment, even when they make mistakes.
  • Offer guidance and advice when needed, but avoid being overbearing. Remember, they’re learning to make their own decisions, so trust their judgment and offer support from the sidelines.

Respect Their Independence:

  • Give them space to grow and explore. Avoid hovering or micromanaging. Trust that they’ll make responsible choices and come to you if they need help.
  • Respect their privacy. Don’t pry into their personal lives or social media activities. Instead, build trust by respecting their boundaries and offering support without intrusion.

Remember, dads:

  • Maintaining a strong bond takes planning and effort. Be patient, and consistent. Show your love and support in various ways.
  • Every child is different. What works for one might not work for another. Tailor your approach based on your child’s unique personality and needs.
  • Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy each other’s company, create lasting memories, and cherish the gift of fatherhood.

By following these tips and putting in the effort, you can ensure that your bond with your older children remains strong and grows even closer as they navigate the exciting journey into adulthood.

Cherish Fatherhood to become a better father

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

– Proverbs 22:6 NIV

Join Fathering Strong

The Fathering Strong community is here to help you have a great beginning to the new year. By joining, you can connect with other dads for mutual encouragement. Discuss the content of these blogs. Share your stories, learn from others, and maybe even mentor a young dad. Be as involved as you choose to be. Register, download the free Fathering Strong app, and turn on the notifications. Do it today and join the Fathering Strong Community of Dads.

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Eli Williams