As a father, sometimes it’s hard to go back to my childhood and remember what’s it like to be a child. To think and act like child again is difficult unless I make myself available to my two boys and their friends. Many times they ask me to play football or ping pong or X-Box and I tell them I will in a minute or I make excuses that I am busy doing other things.
However, when I make time for them and play games with them, I find myself easily re-living those joyous days of my youth. I cheer and celebrate like I did when I was younger, bringing back those countless times that my brothers and I would argue and fight about nonsense.
While we’re playing games or just talking, I share stories from my childhood that the boys love to hear. It doesn’t matter how many times they have heard the stories, they laugh at my silliness or youthfulness. When I share these stories, it reminds me of the times when I was a little boy asking my dad the same questions or the joy and laughter we would share when he opened the vault.
I had the privilege of growing up with my mom and dad’s family around me my entire childhood. I can’t tell you how much that was a blessing in my life. I learned so many valuable lessons from hearing how my parents grew up. The insight that was shared was invaluable to my childhood development. I felt closer to my parents because of the transparency that they displayed.
Sometimes these stories wouldn’t come out of my parent’s mouth. The culprits were my uncles, aunts and grandparents. They would share these embarrassing and heartfelt stories at various family gatherings. My brothers and I would laugh continuously and sometimes, gasp at the outrageous behavior of our parents.
One story in particular that stands out is when my dad burned down some trees by accident as a child. He was playing with matches in the woods near their house. He innocently set a branch on fire and then the fire accidentally spread onto other branches. He raced home to tell his dad that a fire was spreading in the woods. He neglected to inform him, he was the instigator. Several trees burned down before the fire department extinguished the flames.
While my grandpa reminisced, my brothers and I, with our mouths wide open, leaned in listening intently to what my grandpa shared. We were shocked to learn our dad had made such a mistake. No matter how many times we heard that story, it was compelling and brought us closer to who my dad was and why we do some of the things we do.
Hearing these stories helped me realize that my dad was human after all. He made some of the same stupid mistakes that I made, some even worse.
I share these stories because I feel it’s imperative that we share intimate details of our lives with our children. We need to be as transparent as possible in order for our children to learn more about us as they develop their personalities. Our children learn from our mistakes and garner an understanding and appreciation of how our childhood experiences shaped us into adulthood.
I have taken excerpts from a date in my 24 Dates With My Dad workbook. This particular date is based on friends and family. We need to know our children’s friends. It’s imperative that we are intentional with our conversations making our children feel that every aspect of their lives are important to us, especially their friends. The old saying is so true, “you are who you hang out with”.
Invite their friends over to your house, play sports and/or board games with them, volunteer at school, have lunch with them at school, take their friends out for ice cream after a game or school event. You will learn so much insight into your children and how they interact with their friends by spending time with them around their friends.
Enjoy your time together and please feel free to email me comments from your dates.
During each of your dates, it’s important for each of you to answer questions.
Father and Child Discussion (arrange ahead of time someone you can call that you trust to tell a story about you family member or friend – see activity at bottom of page)
1. How many friends do you have?
2. Who are your friends?
3. What did you do as a child?
4. Share a story that was funny, embarrassing, or memorable?
5. What do you and your friends do for fun?
6. How can friends influence your decisions for bad or good?
7. How do you determine who your friend is?
8. How do you make friends?
9. How does someone become your friend?
10. How do I know if I have picked the right friends?
– Activity: Call one of your friends and have them share a story about you while you and your children are on the phone.
For more of this date or the other 23 dates, log onto to www.coachministry.com to purchase a complete copy of 24 Dates With My Dad. Topics range from Family/Friends to Money and Trust to Anger/Respect and Forgiveness.
Todd Melloh, father of two, is a sports marketing specialist and founder of COACH Ministry. The “Dates With Dad” column appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE.