Be­ing present

Time spent with kids elim­i­nates guilt in fa­thers.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - By ROBERT NICK­ELL

PAR­ENT­ING is all about bal­ance, and it can be quite dif­fi­cult to feel as if you’re giv­ing your chil­dren enough at­ten­tion while also try­ing to bal­ance work, life and good re­la­tion­ships. Well, it’s all about find­ing the right bal­ance and elim­i­nat­ing the dreaded feel­ing of guilt in re­la­tion to par­ent­ing. Re­mem­ber: If you’re do­ing your very best, you’re do­ing it right.

Daddy guilt ex­ists as much as mummy guilt does, just in dif­fer­ent ways. I be­lieve most dads think that they do not spend enough time with their kids. How­ever, as with most guilt it is re­ally an in­ter­nal process, and the kids them­selves are likely quite con­tent with the level of at­ten­tion they are re­ceiv­ing.

I’ve put to­gether my top tips for al­le­vi­at­ing the feel­ings of daddy guilt and be­ing more en­gaged, in­volved and con­nected – even if you don’t get as much time as you’d like with your kids.

> When in doubt, play:

Af­ter hav­ing seven kids of my own and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing 50 plus years of life, I find I am a lit­tle less con­cerned about my guilt nowa­days, and if I feel even slightly re­morse­ful, I push those feel­ings aside and sim­ply sit down on the floor and start play­ing with my kids.

To­gether, we like ac­tiv­i­ties such as read­ing, build­ing train track set ups, and just walk­ing out­side to­gether to ex­plore our sur­round­ings. Build­ing mem­o­ries to­gether, bond­ing and es­tab­lish­ing a re­la­tion­ship is an im­por­tant part of be­ing a dad, and en­gag­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties with your chil­dren when­ever you have time will elim­i­nate some of the daddy guilt you might be feel­ing from work­ing too much or trav­el­ling.

> Give your un­di­vided at­ten­tion:

For a work­ing dad, or a work­ing mum, the key to avoid­ing guilt and build­ing re­la­tion­ships is un­di­vided at­ten­tion.

When you have the time to be with your kids, do so, with­out the smart phone nearby and with­out any other dis­trac­tions. Even 15 min­utes of un­di­vided at­ten­tion a day is bet­ter than an hour of be­ing in the same room while dis­tracted by a tele­vi­sion, a com­puter or a phone.

Qual­ity time is well spent sit­ting qui­etly, ask­ing ques­tions and lis­ten­ing to your chil­dren. Your kids will show you what they need from you; they’ll lead you to their un­der­stand- ing of qual­ity time, and you need to be ready to jump on that band­wagon. En­gage your chil­dren, make eye con­tact and lis­ten to what they’re say­ing. That is 10 times stronger and more ef­fec­tive than force feed­ing ac­tiv­i­ties or try­ing to sim­ply en­ter­tain them.

When your kids are grown and out of the house it’s im­por­tant to con­nect with them, and that gen­er­ally means log­ging onto Face­book, set­ting up a Skype call, send­ing them an e-mail or mak­ing that phone call. Your goal is sim­ple: check in, en­sure they know you are think­ing of them and give them your love.

If you have lit­tle ones at home and your work de­mands you to travel and are away from you fam­ily for long pe­ri­ods of time, you would need to do the same types of things to stay in­volved and en­gaged. In our house we love Skype and FaceTime; it al­lows us to see each other face-to-face, check in, smile and even play with toys or read a story to­gether.

En­gag­ing in this type of ac­tiv­ity – even when you’re far apart – will al­le­vi­ate the feel­ings of guilt that might come with be­ing

> Make the phone call:

away from your fam­ily for work.

Be the man your fam­ily re­lies on and fol­low through. If you work long days and are only home at night in time for bath time and story time then be present, ev­ery sin­gle night, for those ac­tiv­i­ties. If you work nights and only get to spend time with your chil­dren when they wake up in the morn­ing then be present and make it count.

If week­ends are the only time you get to con­nect with your chil­dren then be con­sis­tent dur­ing those times and be in­volved. Your kids will look for­ward to the time they get to spend with you, and when you con­sis­tently en­gage them you’ll be mak­ing mem­o­ries and build­ing re­la­tion­ships that will last a life­time.

So my ad­vice is re­ally this: if Dad is feel­ing guilty, he should just jump in and spend time with his kids when­ever and how­ever pos­si­ble. It will ben­e­fit ev­ery­one in­volved. – McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

> Be Con­sis­tent:

Robert Nick­ell, aka Daddy Nick­ell, fa­ther of seven, of­fers ad­vice to ex­pec­tant and new par­ents at his Dad­ blog.

Fa­ther’s guilt: more of­ten than not, fa­thers feel bad about not spend­ing enough time with their chil­dren.

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