Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Episode Nineteen: Take Their Cue

One rainy Saturday morning I asked my youngest son what he thought would be a good Idea For Dad. I was taken aback when he suggested washing the car! I'm not making this up.

As it was a rainy day there was no way we were going to get outside to wash the car so we ended up doing something else instead. But his suggestion of washing the car kept coming up. Finally, a sunny Saturday morning rolled around and he got his wish. We washed the car together, just him and I.

So what's the deal here? We have covered 18 great ideas so far and most of them have been parent-driven. You are directing the activity and leading the charge. You come up with the great ideas and your children love the new and exciting things you are doing with them. But sometimes it's OK to hand over the reins to the kids. What do they want to do? What would they do if they could choose anything in the world. Don't be surprised if they ask for a repeat of an idea you've already done. I can't guarantee they will ask to wash the car like my youngest boy but you never know.

My boys often want to wrestle but the timing is never great. Sometimes I've had a long day and am not in the mood at all. Sometimes I've gone to the gym on the way home from work and am feeling particularly sore. Or sometimes their little sister is demanding all of my attention - that happens a lot. You may find there is something that your children ask to do but the timing is never right or it's just not possible. Why not set some time aside to make it possible? Ask them what they feel like doing, take your cue from them. If they struggle to think of something, remind them of that one activity they always nag you about and suggest that to them. 

Letting your children  take charge and set the rules is a great thing to do for them. Not only are you granting them the chance to set the agenda, you're sharing the duties. You're giving them a chance to use their noggin. What is the wildest and craziest idea they can come up with? You're exercising their imagination. You are saying to them, "OK, your ideas have merit. I will listen to and value your suggestions". How often when they have friends over have you said, "Now it's Emily's turn to chose the game". Bingo, same theory here.

Just as an aside, I tried to figure out what is appealing about washing the car. There are two factors in play here: One) My son has always been the type to muck in. If we're doing yard work he'll roll up his sleeves and dig holes, spread fertiliser and hammer nails. He has always been this way and I really think he gets a lot of joy out of helping people out with their chores. Helping Dad with the car seemed to bring a big smile to his dial. Two) It was a great one-on-one activity. Something that only the two of us did. Not entirely by design: My eldest boy was inside reading books and wouldn't even consider coming outside to help us. That isn't a criticism of him, it's more an illustration of how different these two boys are. It is what it is.

My youngest son really enjoys doing jobs with just the two of us. I'm trying hard to think of what other tasks I've been putting off around the house that I can turn into an idea for him. One can dream.

Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Really great post, Dad! Amazing how different the kids are and how much that requires us to be flexible in our parenting!