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How To Be a Better Father With “Dad Time”

In Fatherhood by The Unexpected Dad8 Comments

Several months ago I was having a conversation with an acquaintance of mine about being a father.  He made a comment about promising his wife that he would spend time in the evening playing with his young son.  He mentioned that it will take time away from other things he needs to do, but “I guess I need to do it”. Wow! A disengaged father who struggled to spend time with his son.  Guys, as fathers spending time with our children is our top priority! Do not be the absent dad.

A recent study* followed 750 fathers and the amount of quality time spent with their one year old child.  The study found that larger amounts of quality time spent with a child results in less unwanted behavior at the age of two.  What is “quality time”? The study defines quality time as time spent interacting with the child in a positive and sensitive way.  A father who is patient, encouraging and attentive rather than controlling and critical during play time is much more likely to have a well-adjusted child later in life.

Take close note:  It is not about just sitting around, watching TV with your child, it’s about interacting in a positive manner.  The same study shows that a father who spends a large amount of time with their one year old child, but responds in a negative way, has a child who displays poor social skills by age three.

Be A Better Dad

So if I asked you if you would like to be a better dad, I’m pretty sure your answer would be “YES”!  But how?  Dad time!

Based on this study, a sure-fire way to be a better dad is to spend more quality time with your child.  Now I know what you’re saying: “Paul, this is obvious”!

But is it really that obvious? Aren’t we all drawn to “other” things in our lives that we need to get done?

I need to:

  • Mow the lawn.
  • Catch up on some work.
  • Pay the bills.
  • Work in my shop.
  • Write a blog post.
  • Insert any other activity here.

Yes, anything you can insert into “I need to ____________” is probably important, but if we want to be better parents, we need to start with the basics.

The Basics: Quality Time

Spending some quality time with your child doesn’t have to be complicated, especially for younger children.  If you have kids that are toddler age, check out the post on 6 Cool and Inexpensive Outings For Toddlers.  For school age children (or any child), I always think it’s best to get out of the house (weather permitting), even if it is just going for a walk in the neighborhood.

  • Go out for breakfast, dinner or ice cream; 1 on 1.
  • Hiking, biking or even an over night camping trip.
  • Go for a swim at a public pool.
  • Out of the way or out of the ordinary places.  Colorado Springs has a “Bug Museum” that older kids would find interesting.

If you are stuck in the house:

  • Play with Lego’s together.
  • Work in your shop on a simple project.
  • Make a tasty treat in the kitchen.
  • Take your child’s lead.  Play with whatever toy they want to play with.  Take part in whatever imaginary game they create.

Understand what you’re child likes to do and do those things with him or her.  Whatever it is that you do together, make sure that you are positive and encouraging.  Guide and teach while playing, but not in a critical or controlling manner.

Most of all:  Have fun!


*Science Daily – Dad is important for his children’s development

The Unexpected Dad

The Unexpected Dad

My name is Paul and I am The Unexpected Dad.My wife and I married late in life and we didn’t really expect to have children (thus the title of my blog). We weren’t opposed to the idea of having children, but just assumed that it was not in the cards for us.

I write about the rather unexpected journey of fatherhood, please join me!

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  1. Topfivemum

    This is such a lovely read, and I hope it inspires more dads to take note and get more active. It sometimes nds like you have a similar approach to my husband. He didn’t expect to have any kids as he didn’t consider himself as ‘father material’ and here he is now with two, 18 months apart!

    I think what you’ve said is even more important with such a small age gap between our kids. I’m the SAHM (for now while on mat leave) but it’s been tough giving hem both what they need in the last 6 months since our son was born. My hubby coming home and spending time with our eldest daughter is so important so she feels…well, important! But what you’ve said also rings true for us SAHMs. Often, the bulk of chores sit with us alongside childcare which is less QUALITY time spent with our kids. I make a conscious effort to spend 1-2-1 time with both but it is not always easy with no family around to help. I truly believe everything you’ve said here is true for mums and dads. Thanks for sharing xx

    1. The Unexpected Dad Author
      The Unexpected Dad

      Thank you so much for your comment. It can be tough, but it sounds like you and your husband are doing an amazing job. I really think it is very important for both parents to spend “quality” time with their children. Like you said, it makes our children feel important. And really, there’s nothing else I would rather be doing.

      Thank you for sharing, I really appreciate your comments. Keep up the great work!

  2. Lisa

    Really nice and most refreshing to read about what a dad is doing to improve his relationship with his children ❤️ Keep up the good work 💪

    1. The Unexpected Dad Author
      The Unexpected Dad

      Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for the comment. I appreciate the feedback.


  3. Adam

    Great read!
    Our two toddlers are really into Hot Wheels right now. On a rainy day I created a tournament for the cars to race on their track and determine which was fastest.
    They weren’t the only ones having fun. 🙂

    1. The Unexpected Dad Author
      The Unexpected Dad

      Thanks! Your Hot Wheels tournament sounds awesome! I guess that’s another benefit of having young kids: We get to play with toys that we also loved as kids.

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