With Father’s day just around the corner I began thinking of all the wonderful things that a Dad could do with his daughter. Am I qualified to write such a list? Well the fact that I was a kid once myself (hard to believe I know…), I had an awesome father who really showed me and taught me about the world around us, and the most import reference I can offer is that I am the father of beautiful, talented 9 year old Anne-Marie.
So with all those qualifications and the thoughts of father’s day looming, in this article I have reflected on some of the ideas and things I have done and shared with my daughter of the past many years.
Top Ten List:
- Go camping, just you and your daughter. Many, many years ago I read an article on camping with your really young children. I believe it was in
Backpacker Magazine (they always have great articles like that). The jist of the article was not only could a dad take his young child (4 yrs and up) on a short hiking and camping trip, but that he (the dad) should let the child run the show. For 6 years now I have been taking my daughter, every father’s day weekend, on a just Dad and Daughter camping trip. Although I “oversee” the basic needs and provide some ideas on what we can do, I let my daughter direct the show. When she was very little it was fun to have her suggest we search for frogs, find certain rocks, play leap frog over small bushes in the forest behind our campsite. You may think it’s silly for a grown man (an aspiring executive no less) to be jumping around in the forest for no apparent reason. Let me tell you…doing those things not only let me see and share the world from her young perspective, it brought us closer and closer together. Seeing her eyes light up when we did “silly things” made my heart grow ten sizes (take that mr. grinch).
- Take her to a sporting event.One idea that I stole from the company I work for, or rather my daughter did, was taking in a NHL hockey game. Since we have two Vancouver Hotels we get lots of folks staying for Vancouver Canucks hockey games. Of course my daughter hearing this (dinner table talk) insisted that “her dad” could get her into see the Canucks. Well let me tell you I have no pull with the Canucks but my good friends at BE A FAN gave me a great deal and with a room at my companies Vancouver Airport Hotel our NHL hockey experience was on. Let me tell you guys having your child like to watch a sport that you do….really helps when your wife says “watching hockey again?” “Just spending time with my number one daughter dear”….lol
- Be silly, suck it up and let her use you for model, play with her dolls and be the best tea party partner you can. Admittedly I don’t do this as often as she would like but when I do, she takes full advantage and smiles and laughs like any parent always likes to see.
- Involve your daughter in your job or even work with her when she’s old enough. In my case since I handle the community relations for Accent Inns I get to work at lots of different events we sponsor or support. Whenever possible I bring my daughter along to “help me”. Guys this is very cool! Not only has my daughter been thrilled to sit in a box seat at the local arena, walk our dog in the BC SPCA Paws for a Cause, ride in the Truck Light Parade, she also really enjoys helping me work our community booths. Now my
daughter is only nine but here’s a couple of examples of what sharing and teaching your daughter about your work can do. My former boss and mentor Terry Farmer a couple of years ago handed over the reigns to his Daughter. Mandy Farmer is now the President and Ceo of the Victoria Hotel chain, Accent Inns. A new friend of mine, Larry has brought his daughter in to operate the Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Show.
- Go Fishing. Not only can this be fun when you actually catch a fish but just hangin out together gives you lots of time to talk and guys…you’ll learn more about how your daughter sees the world and what’s important to her in that time than you ever will in a busy household.
- Play video games or watch a movie. Yes I know video games are evil and we should never do this or let our kids do this. Heh, when I was a kid going to the Arcade (yes we didn’t have home units in those days…) was soooo coool. So now some days when I get home and I’m really tired, I’ll just hang out with my daughter and play the Wii ( she always beats me at sword fighting….). This is another great opportunity to share some of her fun times and give her some of my time. My daughter just loves James Bond movies. Most weekends she asks if we can watch one (we have a copy of all of them..) We have fun talking about our favorite stunts and characters and boy does it beat watching Barney!
- Build stuff. We’ve got an older house that we “like” to renovate. As i go through the “honey do list” and work on projects my daughter, since she was very little, has always liked to try and help me. This is not always practical or easy but I find that when I can bring her in on a project and even better, teach her a skill, she really enjoys it. We also like working on projects that are special just for her. And guys, sometimes the extra pair of hands are really handy to!
- Be there for her important days when you can. This can be really hard for some guys as our jobs often dictate our schedule. In my case I’m often away, leave the house
before everyone’s up and come home at or after my daughter’s bed time. My company, Accent Inns, is excellent in giving me time off in respect to the extra time I put in. What I like to do is take some of those extra days or hours and attend special functions for my daughter. I was at her Preschool Graduation (so many happy tears..), several of her swimming lesson exams and moving up a level days, the father and daughter cake-off for girl guides (yes we decorated it together). Try and find those times around your schedule that you can be there for “special” moments.
- Share history. Wow this brings back so many memories….(more tears). Working for a Victoria Hotel Chain means we get to live in beautiful Victoria BC. One of our favorite activities, just the two of us, is to attend historical events at Fort Rodd Hill. They often have great displays of Military history and not only does my daughter enjoy the park and the newly refurbished Fisgard lighthouse, but it also give me a chance to share with her some of our families history with the military. Recently it gave me a great opportunity to explain some of the work I am doing with The Royal Canadian Legion.
- Involve her in your life. The biggest thing you can do for your daughter (or any child) is to spend time with them such that you can learn more about them, they can learn more about you (this is important) and you can share memories and experiences together. You don’t need to spend every minute with a child but do try and find special times (and they don’t have to be complicated) to connect. As a member of the Gizeh Shriners Sooke Club,we sponsor the annual Sooke Santa Claus Parade. Twice now my daughter who has come to watch and support me marching in the parade (helping out Santa…) and has been asked by the “big guy” to ride in his sleigh. I’m a bit lucky in that my great job here at Accent Inns opens many doors and thanks to that my daughter has had lots of really neat opportunities such as turning on the lights on Butchart Gardens new carousel for the first time. Although I’ve made many mistakes in my life one of the proudest moments, one that I’ll never forget, is my daughter saying to me at 8 years of age, “thanks dad for these opportunities, I wouldn’t have had them without you,” and the fact that she gets so excited and starts talking about our June Father’s day camping trip every December!
So the moral of this story is this.
We all have different lives and opportunities in life, but one of the most precious is having a child. Do what you can, when you can… but do it! Some of the smallest and silliest things can mean the most to your daughter (child). Don’t be afraid to share and learn from them.
For ideas to create some of those special moments in your daughters life look around you. Use articles like this, read magazines of all kinds ( Island parent has been a good one for me) , watch interesting TV shows (Island 30 is a good local one) talk to others, and listen to your daughter!
Well, time to go…we have another great camping adventure awaiting us tomorrow!
John Espley is the Business Development Manager for Accent Inns BC Hotel Chain, father of one and lives in Victoria BC, Canada.