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."