Taking time out each day to unwind and play with the kids has been a big part of our parenting strategy over the last 8 years. On most days it’s something we and the kids look forward to and when things get crazy or the routine changes, it becomes a fall-back, a safety net of sorts that we could all bank on at the end of the day.
The other day as I was setting up our Lego Avengers HQ with my son, I thought about a piece of parenting advice I came across a few years ago. I don’t recall the details but it was about taking a real interest in the things that interest your kids. Simple advice that stuck with me over the years which I am very grateful for.
It got me thinking about all the ‘play-time’ activities that truly bring a smile to their faces. It’s the things we share an interest in that gets us excited and when we’re excited, we let down our guard, we get involved and actually ‘play’. This is where the magic happens.
I shared my interest in cars and superheroes with my son when he was a toddler without realising that they would become a great source of joy and bonding for us later on. We have our ups and downs, sometimes life gets the better of me but we can always connect and talk about cars or superheroes. Much like I can always connect with my dad on all things automobile.
Children will seek out their curiosities and find their own interests but we have an opportunity while their young to nurture shared interests that will allow us to bond with them for years to come.
Sounds easy enough but the catch is that we have to be willing to indulge them. Let down our guard, get on all fours and actually play with them. For some reason, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. We’re too busy, too tired, too old, or otherwise pre-occupied. We tell them to play, buy them toys, give them whatever they want but not what they need… our time, our interest.
The mistake we make when becoming fathers is that we assume that fatherhood changes who we are. That we need to act ‘fatherly’, that fatherhood removes our inner child, our desire to play. We have to ‘man-up’ and be more responsible. All true, but no one ever said it had to come at the expense of our children’s childhood. Becoming a father should be our gateway back to our childhood, it provides an opportunity for us to re-live our childhood and re-visit our inner child.
If we let go of our ego’s and allow ourselves to find our inner child, perhaps we’ll be better equipped to nurture and raise our own kids.
I’m a Marvel fanboy that plays with lego, I watch super-hero movies and ‘invest’ in superhero merchandise. I have the Avengers assembled on my office desk and sip my coffee from an Iron Man mug. If anyone questions my actions or doubts my maturity, I like to remind them that…
‘we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing’ – George Bernard Shaw.