Want to be a better father, but don't have the time or the money to do something extravagant? Tom Watson, author of the new book Man Shoes, says don't worry about big gestures-- it's the little things that matter most:
Don’t Plan Big – Parents who work a lot sometimes feel guilty about neglecting their kids, and they cater to that guilt by making big plans with their kids on a regular basis. They feel that doing something lavish and expensive will somehow be seen as a payback to their kids for not seeing them often. The pitfall is that the bigger the plan, the bigger the expectation. The truth is, kids don’t care. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or make big plans all the time. It could be as simple as going to the park to fly kites and eating a brown bag lunch together, and most kids would be happy with that.
A Little Time is Better Than None – If you’re working two jobs or work out of town and commute home on the weekends, they will understand if you don’t have a lot of time to spend. Even if you can only block out a couple of hours every week, that can be enough. As long as you keep to the schedule and don’t let them down, that time will be as valuable as if you spent the entire weekend with them.
Share Time – Don’t spend time with your kids, because that term makes it sound like you are giving away time that you could be using for other things. Share time with them, because sharing indicates that you both get something out of that time. It’s important for your kids to know that you aren’t paying attention to them out of obligation, but rather, because you need to be with them as much as they need to be with you.
Make a Schedule – Stability and security are important to kids, so set up a time every week that is just for them, and do your best to make that time on your calendar immovable. Give them something they can look forward to on a regular schedule, and it will show them how important they are to you and help you build a trusting relationship with them.
Communication is the key – find ways and tools to help you do that. Shut off all electronics to keep outside distractions to a minimum. Go fishing – because fishing is more than just fishing… Read together at nights… get off your but and play a game… play catch… walk the dog together and spend more time LISTENING than you do TALKING.
Know their lingo – lingo changes quickly so try to keep up. Don't be shy to ask your kids what they mean by that slang saying… it's okay to be the nerd : ) Knowing the lingo – helps you also stay in tune with what's happening with your- what their pressures are as kids in all aspects of their lives. (Drugs, Alcohol, Sex etc…)
Keep their story fresh in their mind – tell your kids stories from their lives regularly. Help them remember the good times. Sometimes life seems dark and troubling – but it's even darker when a person can't remember that good times were just days or weeks or months away. Reminding our families of the good times allows the dark times to not be as dark.
For more information, visit Tom's website.