It helps to be able to text, even if you don’t use your thumbs. Being on Facebook is important if your kids are – it is okay to mandate being ‘friended’. Technological connectivity is important but don’t forget physical presence, emotional engagement and spiritual leadership.
Tips for connecting:
- Ask open-ended questions around the dinner table – “What was the highlight of your day?” or “What challenges did you face at school today?”
- Initiate spiritual discussions – A good starting point is referencing the scripture the pastor used in Sunday’s sermon. Help your daughter or son tune in to the practical application of God’s word today.
- Be alert to disconnect - isolation with technology through excessive computer games or long hours in their room. I encourage playing the games with them to ensure they are appropriate (but don’t get hooked). Computers, including phones, should be used in a common area of the home. (One dad initiated turning off all phones at night and leaving them in his room after an agreed upon hour. The kids were a lot easier to wake up in the morning!)
- Commit time on their turf – make their games, host events, help the youth minister at every opportunity, chaperone church trips.
- Schedule routine one-on-one time – date nights, weekend retreats and/or extended trips. Be intentional at key junctures such as middle school to high school transition, turning sixteen, high school graduation, etc…
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4. Exasperation is often the result of an overdose of rules and control. Instead, focus your efforts on connecting emotionally and leading spiritually by example.
A faithful father is intentional in his efforts to connect emotionally and lead spiritually by example.