This idea is for families with multiple children. I didn’t invent the idea but can’t remember how I learned of it. The premise is that each child should have some activity that is special and unique with each parent. I’ll speak from my perspective as a father of daughters, but it works in parallel with the mother or with sons.
I’ve discovered a couple of things that are important to consider while putting this into place:
- Special – The word “special” doesn’t mean extravagant or unusual. Rather, it means that because you and your child do it together it becomes something special to the two of you. Imagine your child saying in their adolescent or adult years, “Remember when we used to _____ together? That was special to me.” It just needs to be something your child is at least moderately interested in and probably not something they already do by themselves on a regular basis.
- Unique – If you have multiple children, I think/assume it is best if you don’t identify the same special activity with more than one child. That would seem to me to make it less special. It is best when your other children have little or no interest in the special activity you’re developing with a given child. For example, only one of my daughters was even willing to eat sushi.
- Age-Appropriate – It is likely the activities that are special when your child/children are in elementary school won’t be considered special when they’re in middle school. For that reason, you might need to swap out special activities once or twice as your kids grow.
Examples of special activities I had with my girls at different stages are listed below:
- Skipping rocks on a lake or pond
- Hiking up a hill
- Riding roller coasters
- Eating sushi
Ideas I’ve heard from others are listed below:
- Watching a certain genre of movies
- Listening to a certain genre of music
- Assembling puzzles (of increasing difficulty over the years)
- Building sand castles
- Flying a kite
- Working in the yard/garden
- Collecting things (coins, stamps, trading cards, etc)
- Painting or sculpting
- Eating a certain type of food (TexMex, BBQ, Teppenyaki, etc)
The possibilities are basically endless.
I also concluded that the selection of a special activity with one of my daughters didn’t mean it was totally off limits for another daughter. But I just didn’t do that activity near as often as the daughter it was claimed to be special for/with. For example, I rode roller coasters with all of my daughters. But one of them really liked it and I did it 2-3x as many times with her.
After reading this, you will probably realize that you already have some special activities between you and each of your children. Embrace them, think about proactively engaging in them on a periodic basis, and look forward to future “remember when” reflections.
See my other blog posts on parenting here.