Saturday, February 3, 2018

What Did You Say!!??

"So dad my nails didn't turn out right. I tried to use this new zig-zag template and then tried an abstract design but neither worked. The abstract was too thick and ended up being all tacky," she said as dad listened with eyes glazed over. It sounds like a page out of a novel, but that quote is actually from a conversation I had with my daughter the other evening.  If you have daughters like me you know like I do that there's hardly ever a shortage of words being spoken on any given day. With the abundance of words there have been plenty of times that I've missed some detail that I was later interrogated on, but came up clueless. One of my dad superpowers is the ability to tune out female voices. My wife can confirm this. It has gotten me into trouble over the past 13 years of marriage and 10 years of parenting, but I'm learning to use my powers for good. LOL. When I get home from work there are times all I want is for complete silence, but that's normally not the order of the day. The kids give me space but they often want more so I have to comply. It's not always the easiest but their desire to connect with their "guy" usually overrides my desire for space. I know these moments will pass by quickly and I will wish for them one day. So here are a few ways that I intentionally make sure that I am connecting with them.

Dinner Together-I safeguard my schedule to ensure that I am home to have dinner with entire family at least 3 times out of the week. We're together so much that if I miss dinner at least one of the kids will complain.

High-Low-One of the conversation starters we use is a game called, "High -Low." We each take turns discussing the high points as well as the low points of our day. A lot of times playing this game leads to other conversations as we discover what one another is going through. The main rule of this game is that we make eye contact and keep our devices away from the table. It's great when there are nothing but "highs," but be prepared for the lows. While the lows are uncomfortable and demanding, they are also the times that my daughter needs me the most.

Take Notes-I recently added this one. When my daughter is "spun up" and going on and on and on about something that is important to her-(like zig-zag patterned nail polish that didn't turn out right) that I cannot relate to I stop what I'm doing and listen. Not only do I listen but I give her full eye contact and right after the conversation I make a note on my phone about what we discussed. This is nothing extravagant other than a few bullet points to refer to later. This way if I forget what she said, I have a cheat sheet. Having a daughter means as her dad I have to value what is important to her even I'm not remotely into whatever she's expressing to me. I'm convinced many kids grow up with emotional issues because their parents never actually listened to them. Dads it's never too late to start being intentional about being emotionally connected to your kids. It also helps me when it comes to remembering things so that I can be more thoughtful with  birthday gifts or be more sensitive to what the kids are facing. Hopefully some of these tips will help you keep from saying, "What did you say?" a little less often."