As fathers, we would do well to admit up front that none of us has "arrived." We all have room to improve, and we should all be diligent about figuring out where we need to grow and then actively seeking to be more effective in those areas.
The teen years can be the best of times and the worst of times. At no other time in your child's life can things be more trying. One common mistake made by loving parents is that they don't give teens enough responsibility soon enough. Too often parents don't trust the values they have instilled over the years, so they attempt to force values on their children in adolescence, and the children rebel.
Playing with your toddler in a "sensitive, supportive and challenging way" will help him form closer, more trusting relationships with others later in his childhood and teen years. This comes from a 16-year study by researchers at the University of Regensburg in Germany. While observing 44 families, researchers gave high scores to fathers who talked to their toddlers in an age-appropriate way, stimulated and encouraged their children, made appealing suggestions for play, and refrained from criticism.
For many younger children, the language of their world is play. When fathers don't speak that language, but instead try to relate in an adult way, kids can't understand or relate, and may experience feelings of frustration, isolation, or ignorance. Sometimes fathers feel the lack of connection, too. But we can prevent it—and strengthen the bonds with our children—by learning their language of play.
Herb comes home from work, and young Mark and Grace are eager to go outside and play. He shakes them loose from his arms and legs for a minute so he can change clothes, and he takes the mail upstairs with him.
His five-year-old son follows, talking about what happened that day, overflowing with comments that draw from both reality and make-believe. It’s too much for Herb to follow. “Mark,” he says, “can’t you see that I’m trying to read the mail? Let’s talk about this later.”