Are You Ready For Your Date?

When was the last time you went out on a date........with your kids?

Before I got married, I have read so many books saying couples tend to forget each other once the children are born.  The focus would normally shift from the spouse to the children and the schedule would usually revolve around them.  With that, Dens and I promised to have a date night every Friday to also make sure we have time for ourselves.
Last Saturday, i learned something new from our New Beginnings talk with Coach Pia. You will also need to schedule date nights with each of your child. Just like your spouse, you're together most of the time at home but the bonding is also different when you go out on dates and experience new things together.
Then I remembered seeing some parent-child date pictures on Facebook from my good friends Jackson and Ann.  Their date nights are particularly special because they have 7 kids! Imagine that! Joshua (11), Jericho (10), Ariana(9), Jacob (7), Jonah (6), Andrea (16 months), Angela (1 month). I truly admire how they have raised very behaved and well-mannered kids. Ann stays home to take care of the kids and tutor all of them. You would think their home would be chaotic but it's amazingly not. Both of them have done a wonderful job raising confident and happy kids.
I decided to interview Jack and get a dad's perspective on how he manages to let each child feel unique and loved.
How do you manage to provide individual attention to all 7 kids?
[Jackson] I make sure we have simple bonding moments after their school activities. Joshua has guitar and math classes, Jericho has student council meetings, and Ariana has piano classes every Saturday morning. I would pick them up and it would be a good opportunity to spend time with them.
Jacob and Jonah usually spend time with me a home, playing and enjoying games. Our favorite right now is working on our Lego collections and our "Tickle Time".  For Andrea and Angela, I make sure to provide time to bring them and Ann for a stroll during Sundays. 
I remember seeing pictures of your dates with your children, why did you think of having this?

[Jackson] Presence matters. What I have learned is that ordinary moments may become the biggest treasured memory for our children. Having one-on-one dates with our kids provide them our full attention which they so desire. This gives them a sense of security that they are important no matter what their place in the family. They know that you care for them and love spending time with them individually. 

Date with Joshua
Love for them is spelled as "Quality Time" and you cannot do that with all of them at the same time! It is during these one-on-one dates that we can fully understand their personalities, behaviors, and even their secrets.

As a father, you get to instill the right values in them. You get to talk about faith and help them have strong convictions when they grow older. You get to really know them and allow them to also get to know who their dad is.  But most of all, to plant in each one of them a strong family identity built around Christ. I want my sons to know they can approach me anytime they want, with full access and no inhibitions. I want my daughters to know that her first love is daddy, and that the word "I Love You" is spoken every time at home.

Besides getting to know them more, what other benefits do you see in spending individual time with each child?

Date with Jericho

[Jackson] Wow, the benefits are life changing! You begin to better understand the call for fatherhood.  I want to build a legacy based on my faith in God and His instructions.  Our kids will grow in confidence and in love. That will be their guide as they grow older. You put the matter of self-worth in its proper perspective - that is, Christ's great love for our sons and daughters. 

Doesn’t the other child feel jealous when it’s the turn of his/her siblings?

[Jackson] There are sibling rivalries once in awhile.  But as long as we explain that everyone gets a chance to be with daddy, everything turns out to be okay, I guess (hahaha).  Ann is doing a great job educating them about time sharing.  They get to do fun things while their brother or sister spends time with me. 

Any other tips on giving attention to kids?

[Jackson] Share A Hobby! We love Lego's! And this is where we get to spend time together.  We also use it as a teaching tool for kids!

Thank you, Jack, for sharing your fatherhood experiences. 

I personally like what Jack shared about self-worth. I find this especially true when dads go on dates with the little girls. By the time our daughters grows up, she will already know how a lady should be treated on a date because her dad has set the benchmark. She will have more self worth and not be attracted to guys who disrespect her. Sometimes, uncles or grandfathers can also step in as the father-figure when the father is not present. (Think Rory of Gilmore Girls).

Here are some additional tips i have learned from our New Beginnings talk with Coach Pia:
  • It should be one-on-one. This means that either Mom with child or Dad with child. If both parents go, the tendency is for the parents to talk most of the time so the value of the date with the child is diminished.
  • Let the child make the agenda for the date.  Ask them what they want to do and where they wan to go.
  • Start your dates when the child knows how to communicate already. This is usually around 1.5 to 2.5 years old.
  • Don't use the dates as a bargaining tool for discipline. Some parents might say 'If you do not do your homework, we will not go out on the date!'. The child has to know that this is something that you personally look forward to and are not just doing it for them. It's better to say 'Please finish your assignments already. Mommy will be so sad if we can't go out on our date tonight'.
  • Label It! Let the child know that this is a 'date'. If you don't tell them, they might not recognize that it's a date with them.
  • Finally, thank them for the date when you get home! You can say 'You know I really had fun tonight.  Thank you for going out on a date with Mommy'.
So what are we waiting for? Start scheduling your week and planning your dates with your children. I know it takes some effort to consistently do it but i can assure you that it's tremendously rewarding.

Happy Dating!





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