Of all the mentorships in life, none is more important than the relationship between parents and their children. Truth be told, parenting is like being every type of mentor rolled into one. Education, work, social interactions, romance, personal pursuits – kids need their parents to be that original mentor that shares wisdom and guidance gained from years of experience.
And parents need the connection just as much as their kids. All too often busy parents look back and wonder where the time went. They think about the missed moments that can never be replicated that were sacrificed for something else that seemed more pressing at the time. Like Gary Keller says in The ONE Thing, “Time waits for no one . . . When you gamble with your time, you may be placing a bet you can’t cover. Even if you are sure you can win, be careful that you can live with what you lose.”
In honor of National Sons & Daughters Day we’re sharing our favorite ONE Thing ideas for making more time with your kids no matter how old they are. Anyone can put these ideas to good use, especially those parents that are about to send their kids off to college.
Pencil in a Dinner for Two
Countless mentoring meetings have taken place over a meal because it is an excellent way to focus on the other person. The dinner table is a relatively distraction-free zone that encourages interaction with the person sitting in front of you. Make it a phone-free dinner and you’ll have each other’s full attention. Dinner is also a great idea because food is a shared experience, it’s connected to past memories and is a way for parents to pass down their family heritage to the next generation.
Share a Goal Together
When a father and his son restore an old clunker, it’s not so much about having another car to drive as it is sharing a goal that can be worked on together. The same can be said about any project you take on with your child. Find an activity or subject that you both enjoy and use that as a basis for a goal. It could be reading a book, running a 5K or signing up for a volunteer event. No matter what the activity may be, the main objective is achieving the goal together.
Give the Gift of Yourself
Instead of spending time searching for a gift, give your kids an experience that you can share together. Taking a trip to an astronomy center is always a fun idea. There’s something about peering into outer space that makes a person contemplate their place here on Earth. Stargazing is also a whimsical experience that brings us right back to being a kid dreaming of all the possibilities in life. It’s a real conversation starter, and even the most cynical teens may open up after seeing the craters of the moon or the rings of Saturn. It’s these kinds of thoughtful memories and experiences that kids remember when they’re older, not the latest toy that they received on their birthday.
Bring Your Child to Work for a Day
This is an opportunity to not simply show your child where you work, but what it is that you’re doing when you’re away from home. It’s a chance to explain why you choose your career path and the importance of finding a profession you’re passionate about because it will take time away from family. Just seeing the family picture on your desk can help your child understand that at the end of the day you’re working for them and their future.
Being a parent means you’ve automatically assumed the role of being the important mentor in your children’s lives – there’s no way around it. The time you put in will determine how much value your child gets out of the relationship. Make spending more time with your kids your ONE Thing and like any good mentorship it will be rewarding for you both.