“My Turn with Dad,” Ensign, Aug. 1984, 70
I was dismayed when I heard what little time the average father spends each day with his children. In talking with my husband, we decided that even though he is busy with business responsibilities, a bishopric calling, and hobbies and sporting interests, we would do something which allowed him more time with the children.
We started out by initiating a “time alone with Dad” system where each child spends fifteen minutes with his father directly following family night. We start with the youngest, who, while the others are doing homework or chores, plays a game with him, tells him about her day, or does whatever she chooses. After fifteen minutes, she is off to bed and the next one has her time alone.
We decided that, once a year, each child should have lunch with Dad at his office. At first I went along, but we found that my husband and I tended to talk to each other instead of encouraging the father-child relationship. Now, each child and my husband have this experience alone. The child sees where Daddy works, meets his associates, and gets to decide on lunch. I’m finding that the children can remember years later exactly what they ordered each time. Also, they like to sit down and draw pictures of what Daddy does at work.
We also feel it is important that he go to school conferences. Somehow he pays more attention when he hears compliments or complaints directly, and the children appreciate knowing their father cares enough to go.
Going places with their father has helped our children feel closer to him. Whenever Father has an errand, I ask, “Which of the children would you like to go along to keep you company?” As the children have grown older we try to allow one or more of them to go with him on his occasional out-of-town trips. Each spring and fall my husband drives to his hometown to help his mother do the seasonal yard work. I encourage him to take the children along, not only to help, but to witness this example of his love for his mother.
Simply becoming involved in our children’s lives and letting them become involved in ours has given us time to be with our children and to develop a unique and lasting relationship with each of them. Ruth N. Dickson, Salt Lake City, Utah