Undivided Attention

by Will Peycke

I’m writing this just after returning from a nine-day father/son trip with my son Andrew.

And it was awesome.

The focal point was a five-day back country canoe trip with a group of other fathers and sons (facilitated by Restoration Project) with a couple days of travel and sight-seeing before and after.

Needless to say, I’ve found sitting at my desk more challenging than usual this week! I keep pulling up the folder of pictures from the trip and feeling the itch to be back “out there” with Andrew.

I’m so grateful Andrew and I were able to make such an investment in our relationship with each other and in his growth as a man. Kay and I have each done shorter father/son or mother/daughter trips with one of our kids before. But this trip took it to a whole new level—partly due to the intentionality of the program we were participating in, but mostly, I think, because we simply spent so much undistracted time together. Shared experiences create shared stories, and shared stories build deep relationships.

As I’m reflecting on this trip, I feel compelled to encourage my fellow dads (and moms) not to miss out. You may not have a nine-day trip on your agenda, but don’t let that keep you from investing meaningful time with your son or daughter. Believe it or not, we only have a few weeks of summer left. How might you intentionally invest in your children before you run out of summer—or out of years?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Block out an hour on a weeknight for each of your kids. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and postpone the to-do list. Instead, let your son/daughter choose an activity for the two of you to do together: ride bikes, jump on the trampoline, read a book, play a board game, or get ice cream. Build this “you and me time” into your schedule on a regular basis.
  • Plan a fun activity to do together, just the two of you: zip lines, horseback riding, laser tag, a trampoline park, baseball game, fishing, etc. If it is something they have never done before, that’s even better.
  • Schedule a “dinner date” with each of your kids at their favorite restaurant. Over dinner, ask about their favorite memories from the summer, what they are most excited (or nervous) about this school year, and how you can pray for them.
  • Look through a family photo album or digital photo collection from when they were little and enjoy reminiscing together. Point out how you’ve seen them grow and mature.  
  • Set up a tent in the backyard and camp out together.
  • If you have a preteen or tween, start planning an overnight trip to engage some big topics together using a resource like Passport to Purity. (We have a P2P kit available in the church office for families to borrow.)
  • If you still have a family vacation on the calendar, plan a special one-on-one time with mom or dad for each of your kids during the trip.

What would you add to this list? What have been the most meaningful ways you have invested in your relationship with your son/daughter? Family vacations and outings are fantastic, but there is something unique and special about having your mom or dad’s undivided attention.

Parents, summer isn’t over yet. Grab that calendar and make a plan! Your relationship with your kids is too important to let the summer slip away without spending intentional time together. Give each of your kids the gift of your undivided attention. It's a gift they may treasure even more than you realize.