Where is Dad? Fathers Play With Your Kids
Fathers, you are the authority over your children. You should teach them the importance of obedience (Ephesians 6:1). But fathers wear many hats. Wearing the hat of authority is only one role. In John 15:15 Jesus called the disciples “friends.” Dads should be friends with their children by playing with them.
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
One way to exasperate your children is to always lecture them, but neglect to play with them. Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Gifts should be enjoyed.
Besides the simple pleasures of enjoying your children, there are many other reasons to play with your kids:
- They will be more responsive to your instruction if you have a relationship with them.
- Your kids will open up and talk to you about their issues and emotions if you are friends.
- Shepherding their hearts requires a relationship.
- You will enjoy your children more if you play with them.
- Playing is an important way to learn:
- “Combinatory play seems to be an essential feature in productive thought.” – Albert Einstein
- “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” – Mr. Rogers
Real life play is the place where kids can apply all the things they are learning, whether it is the Biblical instruction to love your neighbor as yourself, physical coordination and strength, or the academic side of things such as practicing math skills or logic.
I have made a point to often play with my kids. We play catch. We play football. We play frisbee. I have tea parties with my girls. We pretend to cook meals in their play kitchen. Board games are our favorite. And I can tell you, that play and games never cease to provide teachable moments.
Through guided play, kids can learn to “win without boasting and lose without excuse.” Life will not always be success after success. Games show kids that failures happen to and those are OK if we respond to them the right way. Sports and games can provide a healthy place for learning to compete and cooperate with others. Mistakes and failures will happen. Fathers, you can use those to teach your children the value of perseverance, practice, and hard work to improve.
My eight-year-old son gets discouraged easily when faced with new challenges. “Its impossible” or “I can never learn that” are common refrains. Learning how to bounce on a POGO stick seemed very difficult to him. At the beginning, he was discouraged and thought he would never get it. After a month or of guided practice, he was able to bounce one thousand times in a row. He learned to persevere.
Every kid is different. I love deep strategy board games, but not all of my kids do. My oldest son will devour rule books in his free time, but the next one prefers imagination games. The role of the dad is to meet your kids where they are, spending quality time playing with them what they enjoy and not what you want them to enjoy.
Laughter will make your home a happy place that your kids will want to be.
Proverbs 17:22 – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed up spirit dries up.
In many cases youth in Christian families who can’t get away from home fast enough when they are old enough to do so. In some of these cases the parents were strict. The dads trained and disciplined their children, which they should. But there was a lack of love, a lack of fun, a lack of joy. The authority side was emphasized, but was not balanced with good hearted friendship and fun.
If parents would strive to make the home a joyful place by spending time to play with their kids, then maybe they would find that their children would love to return there even after growing up. Maybe they would find their children more open and teachable. Maybe they would find that their children value their friendship.
Charles Dickens – There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.
There are many ways of course to play with your kids. The key is to make it fun.
Take for example story time. A lot of stories are boring. “The cat ran fast. The dog chased the cat.” Little children have short attention spans. You can make story time exciting. Try different sound effects for the animals. Act out parts of the story. Be dramatic. Use different facial expressions and tones. Make up a story based on the pictures. Ask questions and make it interactive. The point is to think outside of the box when you play. Try to get your kids to laugh.
Another great way to play with your kids is to plan family vacations. These can be a time of building memories and bonding.
Playing with your kids should become a part of the fabric of your home. Time away from the computer, phone, and electronics for both parents and kids will be beneficial for all. And it starts with Dad. Few fathers will reach the end of their life and say, “I wish I spent more time at the office.” Many will say, “I wish I spent more time playing with my kids.”
Dads, this Father’s Day ask your kids what they want to do and spend time enjoying simple fun with them.
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The Adventure Bible’s Book of Daring Deeds and Epic Creations and the NIV Adventure Bible for Kids
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