Your kids grow up quickly, right? Think 5, 10 or 15 years from now. They’re ready to leave home.
What are you hoping for?
– They’ll be back to visit regularly?
– They’ll call you up for a quick chat?
I reckon most dads feel this way.
You think about that brilliant relationship you’ll have when they’re adults.
Except for many dads, it doesn’t turn out like this – even when they do everything right.
You see, even when you provide for everything they could ever wish for. Amazing holidays. All the toys and experiences. Endless ‘dad taxi’ driving around…
…there’s every chance that at age 18 and beyond, they won’t want to hang out with you.
They’ll only see you out of a sense of duty and guilt. Talk to their mum, but not you.
It’s down to something I call ‘Connection Windows.’
Well, you know when your kid starts saying something, and your mind just drifts off?
Or they say ‘Look, dad’ and you glance up quickly and then get pulled back to your phone?
That’s one too.
They’re pretty easy to spot, right?
Yet so easy to ignore: if you’ve got a lot on your mind; your to-do list is massive; you’re knackered; or worried.
You think ‘later’ or ‘it doesn’t matter for now.’
The more you dismiss them, the more you are in ‘Connection Deficit.’
You see, the effect is cumulative. Once in a while? No problem.
Do it regularly, and you build an invisible wall between you and your child. One that grows to the point where your child doesn’t believe you want to connect with them.
The problem is, even when you do ‘active listening’ – with perfectly timed nods and ahas, it still doesn’t work.
Kids are super intuitive. They know if you’re not really tuned in.
Even with the best intentions – when you’re a busy dad, your mind drifts:
Your child shows you their ‘amazing’ drawing…. but your mind goes to that delayed customer payment…
It’s so easy to tell when someone isn’t fully there.
You want the opposite of that.
Every time you catch a Window, you’re crediting your ‘Connection Account’.
It’s easier said than done, though…
because we have this habit of forever tuning out those moments.
Our minds are so full… with to-do’s, the day’s events and future plans, it’s almost impossible to focus on what’s happening RIGHT NOW.
And this goes way beyond vague advice like ‘be present’. It’s to do with how we are set up as human beings. We are literally hard wired to think constantly about what’s going to happen in the future.
So unless we have a predictable, reliable method to unplug ourselves from this constant thinking, our family ends up suffering…
…without us even realising!
Get it right, though and it’s the most natural way of building a deep and life-long connection with your child.
One that’ll have them hanging out with you. Because they want to, not because they think they should.