On a rainy evening a few weeks ago I had my son Grayson on top of a load of hay that was sitting in the back of our pickup truck. He was helping me feed our horses as I drove slowly around the small pasture we have behind our house. My daughter Afton was in the cab with me dying to get out and climb on top as well. The area we were in was muddy from the rain so I told her not to get out. She replied “But I’m your muddy farm girl dad!”
That little statement has warmed my heart over and over since. First she see’s herself as my girl. What dad doesn’t long to hear those words from his little girl. Then the fact that she embraces some of the things that I love, the farm, physical work and not be afraid to get a little dirty in the process, only makes the statement that much more endearing.
Her school teacher gave her the choice of animals to do a report on for science. “Hey Dad. Guess what animal I get to do my report on? A Pig!” she exclaimed laughing. The statement “I’m your muddy farm girl” sparkled in her eyes as we shared a fun playful moment.
Today I am bringing home a baby pig from our farm in the Uinta Basin. It’s the runt of the litter. She would have died since her brothers and sisters were just too big and pushy for her to get any food from her mother. We’ll feed her until she’s big enough to fend for herself. Afton doesn’t know I’m bringing her home and I can’t wait to surprise her. (Maybe I’ll try to sneak her under her pillow or something.) It means more work for her, but she’ll be thrilled and maybe she’ll take the pig to school to show her class mates what a baby pig looks like for her report.
As parents we want this kind of relationship with each of our children. As time goes on, the children who need us and want to please us grow into independence seeking teenagers. Teens may not naturally enjoy sharing in our hobbies, so we need to be the adults and show interest in theirs.
Here are three suggestions for doing some parent-child bonding:
- Watch what they talk about at dinner or in the car for one week, taking notes on the subjects that come up regularly.
- Do a little research on your own around that subject. This way you\’ll have something more to contribute than \”Humph. Is that so?\”
- Plan an activity you can do, one-on-one around that subject or hobby.
Doing these steps sincerely, will start to add to the cache of shared, happy experiences. Your kids may be shocked at first that you care about their “stuff.” But it will speak volumes to them about how much you must love. Life is so much more enjoyable when we actually share our journey through it.
To Family Happiness!
Tim Thayne, Ph.D.