Hello, my name is Matt and I would love the opportunity to share my story with you.
I woke up one day last year to find that I had a 15 year old daughter. What a shock that was! – the fact that she had lived with me for pretty much every day of those 15 years should have dulled that shock but, amazingly, just added to it. What a realisation! Feeling slightly, and increasingly, distant from her was becoming the norm, shorter and shorter conversations were taking place and yet here I was taking her to yet another party at a house I had never been to with people that I didn’t know.
At this point I figured I had two choices: I could get mad at her and restrict her from doing all of the usual things that every teenager wants to do, or I could take another approach that would avoid the inevitable conflict that would arise and which would also avoid only making matters worse. I would like to share what this proactive approach is, and the results that we have achieved from it, and in doing so urge you to integrate this simple approach into your schedule.
Firstly, I don’t know where I got the idea from, I can almost guarantee that it wasn’t originally mine, however I sat my daughter down with her two sisters and said to them that I was promising to spend two hours with each of them with no other agenda than doing only what they want to do. That’s right, two hours one-on-one doing only what they want to do. Simple. There is no other distraction, I am not on the phone, and we only do something where we get to communicate with each other. On the first weekend of the month I spend two hours with one daughter, the next weekend the next daughter and the third weekend the third daughter. On the fourth weekend I get to go for a motorbike ride!
The change has been incredible. My children and I are now friends. I cannot begin to describe how happy, and honoured, that makes me feel. The change is not restricted to the outing either, it has reverberations that continue through all aspects of our relationship from how we approach doing homework together, the conversations we can now have, to how well they help out around the house. And it is not anything special that we do on these outings: playing tennis, going for a bike ride, practicing sport, sharing a meal, window shopping – whatever it happens to be. Remember: is not the event that is important, it is the communication that takes place.
Two hours doesn’t seem to be a lot. It isn’t. Yet I will be the first to admit that I cannot always find the time and I am not as consistent as I should be. Oh well, the next weekend I try again. I would love to say I am perfect with this, however I am not: but even my inconsistent attempts have made an incredible difference.
When asked, every child generally just wants one thing from their parents: time. Instead of it happening when it happens, I urge you to schedule this time in and make it happen regularly: your children will be happier, you will be happier and the difference it will make in one, five, ten, twenty years will be immeasurable. Let’s pick a date and make a start: make it May 17th, the week after Mothers Day, where dads spend time, without distractions, with a child. Schedule it in, and check out the excitement on your child’s face. And remember, your child can be 5, 15, 25 or 55 years old and the results will be the same. Enjoy!