Happy Father’s Day Dads! In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I might share my five tips for connecting with your kids as a blended parent. All of these tips apply to any father—-married, divorced, step-father, etc. Thanks for being a great dad!

5 Fathering Tips for Connecting with Your Kids

1. Learn & Play Activities that are Special to You and Your Kids. As a dad, it is important that you have kid centric activities that are special to you and your kids alone. My first suggestion is learn or participate in a sport or activity together. For me and my blended daughter Caitlyn, we attended roller blading lessons every Saturday on weekends I had her. We kept that up for years and years and became expert skaters in the process. This became our “special” activity and we got tons of exercise in the process.

A mistake that some dads make is thinking that they can get their kids into athletic activities when they’re more into indoors pursuits. Encouraging them to go hiking with you or to get a little more active can help, but you don’t want to pressure them to be the soccer star that they will never want to be. More intellectual hobbies you can share with them, such as learning magic tricks like marking cards with invisible ink, can speak a lot more to their personality. It can show that you’re not trying to force a personality onto them but trying to connect with them as they are.

2. Communicate with your Kids Regularly. Your co-parenting agreements may dictate your visitation and maybe even spell out phone calls, but we live in technology connected world. Text, Skype, Facebook chat, write letters, mail postcards, or send care packages. Find a reason to connect with your kids and do it predictably, frequently and regularly.

[tweet “Parenting Tip: Take your kids out to breakfast and ask them lots of questions.”]
3. Take Them Out to Breakfast and Ask More Questions. With all my kids, and especially my blended teen, I usually try to take each one out to breakfast several times a month. These are early one-on-one breakfasts, before school or early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. More so than just a meal, I usually come with a story from my childhood, or a specific topic of discussion. Ask detail questions. It is in these special breakfasts, that I have had the most special talks about relationships, sex, money, careers and their future ambitions.

4. Read Together. In raising young children, reading is so important to their life learning and correlates to advance education. What the research doesn’t tell you, kids reflect and remember these parent/child reading moments as special times. One year, my daughter and I read the entire Harry Potter series together. Most of that reading was in short 15-30 minute segments from which I read to her before she went to bed. She still talks about those times today. It took about a year, but it is a simple memory that has and will lasts a lifetime.

5. Celebrate Made Up Holidays. In a shared parenting relationship, holidays are not always spent with kids. Furthermore, sometime they are celebrated late or on other days. Changes the rules. Make new memories. Maybe Christmas Day is December 28th. Perhaps Half Birthday are the new norm in your family. We celebrate big on last day of school with gifts and a nice restaurant luncheon. Make up your own holidays! Have fun. And make memories connecting with your kids.

How do you connect with your kids? What are some of your bonding activities?

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Feature image of Fred’s kids taken at Sea World, post image from Disney World with Caitlyn on Space Mountain.