Many parents have a hard time bonding with their children as they get older, even more so in a blended family.
As entrepreneurs, we already struggle with balancing time with our family. As our children get older, it gets more challenging to bond with our kids as they become more independent. And in a blended family, this challenge is amplified even more when your child isn't under your roof as much. This has been my experience as a father in the middle of a blended family situation.
I was able to have a good conversation to reflect and talk through some of these things on my good friends' podcast called 18 Summers. You can listen to the conversation here: 18 Summers: Podcast for Parents - Forming a Meaningful and Impactful Relationship with Your Family
As I talked with Jim and Jamie Sheils, we were able to discuss many challenges we all face with our children as entrepreneurs, but it was refreshing to reflect on solutions to many of these challenges. As entrepreneurs, in our businesses, we know when there is a challenge, we have to find a way to overcome it. So as fathers, why do we give up so easily when we face challenges with our kids? As fathers, we need to have the same mindset, that we won't give up easily on our children. We need to find ways to overcome the obstacles that divide us from our children.
My oldest daughter, Kaylin, is 15 now. And she is only over half the time. It's not the easiest to always connect with a high school girl at this point. Through the years, one effective thing I've been able to do with my daughter has been, each summer, we would go to a Daddy-Daughter camp for a week. These times have been phenomenal for us. Our phones would be off. We had focused bonding time to do fun activities as well as have times created for open conversation and intimacy. Some of the most impactful and intimate moments I've had with my daughter have been during these camp times.
As Kaylin has gotten older, these camps have still been good. But one thing I found to be more impactful has been taking my daughter on a mission trip with me to Guatemala. I've gone multiple time to Guatemala to help with an organization called Transforming Futures. This has been a great experience for me. But I didn't realize how great of an experience it would be for my daughter. On this trip, there were other parents with their kids. And I was the dad who would crack stupid jokes and 'embarrass' his daughter. But I realized she would much rather have a dad spending time with her who she can laugh with, rather than an absent dad. And the interaction she had with the other kids really helped open her eyes to what blessings she has, as well as ignite something in her to want to help others. It was great bonding time as we're spending so much time together all week.
I planned another Daddy-Daughter camp this past summer. And it was good. But my daughter asked me, "Why aren't we going back to Guatemala again?" The impact a mission trip had on her went way beyond what I realized.
In any case, one of the things I've found helpful to relate and bond with my daughter through the years is to set aside a week in the summer to get rid of distractions and do a camp or missions trip each year. These are some of the fondest memories I have with my daughter. And I believe they're some of her fondest memories with me as well.
There are some other great discussion points about bonding with children we talked about on the 18 Summers Podcast. I encourage you to listen to it. But whatever you do, make sure to find a way to spend time with your kids. It's one of the greatest investments you can make.