Raising a child to become academically and socially prepared is the responsibility of a mother and father. All too often, society leaves childrearing to mothers, both married and single. Titles like “soccer mom” and “superwoman” have labeled females as multi-tasking, hard-working, home-cleaning caregivers. And as flattering as these titles sound, they do not always benefit children. Mothers are capable of raising children on their own, but fathers also are needed to help their children grow into productive citizens. Research shows that children with actively engaged fathers are less likely to engage in early sexual activity, drop out of school, and commit juvenile crimes. Whether or not fathers live with their children, they should still form meaningful father-child relationships. Below are just a few ways both married and non-residential dads can spend consistent and meaningful one-on-one time with their children.
What better way to highlight the importance of physical fitness and quality time than routinely exercising with your child? Take advantage of the summer by walking or jogging in the park or near the lakefront several times each week. Begin trekking a few blocks the first few times. Then add a mile or more as the weeks progress. As you walk or jog, catch up on each others’ lives. Discuss things that are going on at work and school. Take breaks and share laughs over bottled waters. Soon, your children will associate physical fitness with having fun with father, which will motivate them to stay healthy.
If religion is important to your family, take the time to expose your children to your traditional religious practices. Whatever religion you practice, use it to make a deeper connection with your child. You might start by taking them where you worship once a week. Be open-minded and listen to your children’s questions regarding religion. Give them resources to help them learn more about your own religious beliefs. Use your faith as a springboard for discussing other important topics, such as the sanctity of marriage and/or life after death. Before you begin, remember to discuss these ideas with your child’s mother, who may practice a religion different from yours. It is important you both agree on what religion you would like your child to pursue.
Use your child’s dirty laundry as a way to get better acquainted. Take your child and his or her soiled clothes to a laundromat to wash. There you can teach your child how to sort whites and colors, measure detergent, and fold clothes. Bring a board game or a deck of cards along to pass time. Whatever your activity of choice, your child will get real one-on-one time with you while learning an important life skill.
Cut or Curl
Build quality father-child relationships by taking your son or daughter to the barbershop or beauty shop regularly. At the barbershop, discuss important happenings in your son’s life. Model for your son how to sit in the barber’s chair. Then, hold his hand or look on proudly as he receives his own haircut. If you have a daughter, take her to the beauty shop. Be the proud poppa that makes sure his little girl leaves with tightly wound curls or a relaxed head of hair. Talk to her about cartoons, sports, or books as she sits in the beautician’s chair, and leave hand-in-hand when she exits looking like a princess. Enjoy your son and daughter’s company through this bi-weekly ritual and form a stronger bond in the process.
Be as consistent in your child’s life as homework. Hold a study date with your son or daughter several times a week. Use the library as your meeting place to learn what your child is studying in class and tackle that day’s homework assignments. If you need a refresher course on what he or she is studying, have librarians help you find the answer to some of your child’s tough homework-related questions. These study sessions will not only help your child become a better student, it will also help you become a more informed and helpful parent.
Remember that spending quality time with your child should be consistent and meaningful. Use the tips above to get back into your child’s life or to establish a better father-child relationship.