I’m a member of a fabulous on-line writing group called Backspace. Many of our members are published authors, and I made an offer to them. Write a guest blog, on (almost) any topic you like, and I’ll post a link to their book(s) in the side panel. The side panel links aren’t there yet (I’m looking for a good WordPress plug-in), but my first guest blogger is ready to go.
Daddy Daughter Dates
Before my wife and I had children I was worried about being a good father. What do fathers do? How can I be a good role model and example for my kids? I was not one of those parents who were drawn to parenting books and articles, but I knew that I wanted to be a good dad and I was afraid of being a failure. I suffered from low esteem! However, I wanted to raise girls who had a strong self-esteem and were confident. I wanted them to have a strong father and to learn more about the world around them. When the big day came and my wife gave birth to our first daughter I was scared but I knew deep down that I could handle this. Three years later when my second daughter was born I was on my way to being an expert father!
After the birth of our first daughter I decided that the best thing that I could do is spend a lot of time with my girls. So I decided to have regular “daddy-daughter dates” where I would expose my girls to various social and cultural customs that would show them what life is all about. Below are a few of the different types of “daddy-daughter dates” that we took and why they were important:
1. Picnic Playground: My girls loved this one. We packed a picnic with all of their favorite foods, usually a PBJ sandwich, cut up apples, chunks of cheddar cheese, chocolate milk, and off we went to the local park. First we run around like crazy, I would be the “ugly monster” and chase my girls who were the “beautiful princesses: and then we would take a break and eat lunch. We talked about school and life and take a rest. Then we played again. Playing builds teamwork, socialization, trust, and helps with the imagination.
2. Friday Farmers Market: Every Friday my youngest daughter and I would go to the local farmer’s market which is a thirty minute drive away. On the way to the market we talked about what vegetables we planned to purchase. We took our own reusable bags and she and I walked hand in hand looking at the wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes of all the different vegetables. We looked at our list and we shopped filling up two large bags full of cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and apples. On the way home we talked about the dinner menu for the coming week. Shopping builds social skills, verbal communication, and learning about healthy eating habits. We also talked about the importance of supporting local farmers and spending money wisely.
3. Errands, Errands, Errands: My wife is an art teacher at a local school which means that I do most of the errands. Rather than go alone I take my daughters with me. After making my master list we are off on our journey. Our usual run of errands include a stop at the bank, post office, local grocery store, gas station, and library. Along the way we either sing songs or talk about what they are doing in school. Running errands provides interaction with people from different social and cultural backgrounds. They also learn about the different types of jobs in our area. Standing in line, waiting, and shopping provides my girls with basic life-skills such as patience, preparation, and balancing “wants and needs” i.e we may want something but we may not always need it!
4. Science Center and Local Museums: We are lucky to have many low cost or free educational centers such as several small and large science centers as well as art museums. Once a week I would take my daughters to a local science center and museum. We would pack a lunch and then off we went. The science centers and museums always have a special “hands on” children’s section that allowed them to explore the world in a safe and fun way. On the way home they were so tired they always took a nap. Trips to the science centers and museums provided my girls with wonderful visual and educational experiences so they could learn more about the world around them.
As a husband and daddy I am very lucky to have the flexibility to spend quality time with my girls. Not all dads can spend as much time with their children as I do. However, dads can spend time with their children, they just have to make the time and juggle their busy schedules accordingly. As my girls are now involved in soccer and other school events our “daddy daughter dates” have slowed down a bit, but I still make an effort to spend time with them. My girls, ages 7 and 4 are turning into beautiful, strong, well-adjusted girls. All of my previous fears about being a good daddy are gone. Now I realize that I am the best daddy in the world—-at least in the eyes of my daughters!
William C. Mills is an ordained priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church and for the past ten years has served a parish in Charlotte, NC. He is also the author of A 30 Day Retreat: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Renewal (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2010). A 30 Day Retreat is a collection of thirty easy to read practical reflections on the gospels, focusing on themes such as love, forgiveness, and charity. The book is a great resource for personal devotion or for small group Bible studies or book clubs. Each chapter includes a “Food For Thought” section for journaling or further discussion. For more information about William visit his website at www.williamcmills.com and his blog Walking With God at www.williamcmills.blogspot.com