Building a Relationship with Your Children

Dear Mr. Dad: My job requires long hours and frequent travel, which means that I rarely ever get to spend as much time with my 5-year-old daughter as I’d like to. What can I do to log some quality time with her, besides playing with dolls?

A: Let’s start with the myth of “quality time.” There’s really no mystery. The truth is that any time you spend with your child—as long as you’re focused on her and not your phone or computer—is quality time. A trip to the bank can jump start discussions about allowances and money. At the grocery store, you can talk about nutrition, the importance of reading labels, and comparison shopping. Listening to the radio in the car can help you learn about her favorite musicians (and might introduce her to yours). And, if she likes to play with dolls, you need to suck it up and join the tea party.

That said, one of the best opportunities for dad-daughter (or dad-son) bonding is when there’s something to fix around the house. Thanks to your work schedule, you probably have a nearly endless list of things that need to be installed, painted, replaced, tightened, tweaked, or upgraded. Each one of those projects is a perfect opportunity to do something fun with your daughter. Even though she’s only five, she can still help you find the right items at the Home Depot, hand you the right tool from your toolbox, or hold the flashlight while you’re fixing a leak under the kitchen sink. As she gets older, teach her how to hammer nails, use a screwdriver, take measurements, pour a quart of oil into your car’s engine, or maybe even drill a hole or cut a few pieces of wood.

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Photo by Brandon Mowinkel on Unsplash

Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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