Being a parent is not just about making sure your children grow up to be strong and healthy, and it’s not just about giving them a good education or sense of discipline. If you want to be a truly great parent then it’s also about being their friends and bonding with them. Not only will this give them a sense of friendship and love that they can rely on throughout their life, but it will also mean they are more likely to be obedient and not want to let you down, and more likely to pick up the habits and the attitudes that you want them to.
Of course if you want to be friends with your children then this means spending a lot of time with them and it means doing fun things with them – and doing so can also help to enrich their lifestyles and give them great experiences that they will be able to cherish into their old age.
The other day my long-term girlfriend asked me if I was looking forward to having children and what I’d do with them, and when she did I realised that there were lots of things on my itinerary. Tragically, when I was only 9 years old my Dad died and as such I’ve always had something of a hole in my life. I have a great Step Dad who I also love, but ultimately that doesn’t change the fact that I lost someone so important to me at that young age – or the fact that there were so many things we had planned to do together. My Dad and I really were like best friends and we shared a lot of the same interests. He was a big kid and so he loved taking me out on bike rides, on ‘witch hunts’ (don’t ask), and to museums but his sense of adventure went further than that.
There are all kinds of things that we had planned, or that we used to do, and I realised that I’m really looking forward to doing all these things with a son or daughter (but mostly son… ) of my own one day. Here are a few of the great bonding activities I have planned, and that may provide inspiration for what you can do with your child either prospective or current…
My Dad and I weren’t big campers, but we did once camp in the garden. More excitingly though we also had a big summer house at the end of the garden that was a great little den for young kids and one of the things I distinctly remember we were supposed to do one day was to spend a night in there with flasks of tea and telling stories. It’s simple and free, but a fantastic way to bond.
I was still only 9 when my Dad passed away which meant that some things we wanted to do were just too dangerous for me to try at that age. Those things included many great adventures we were going to have which included proper scuba diving and going to see the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Of course my Mum could come on the holidays, but the real adventures would be boys only…
Remote Controlled Car
This was a great memory – my Dad came into my room and told me we were going to Toys R’ Us but that this time it wasn’t to buy a new Transformer toy – this was serious stuff. So we headed in and he informed me that we were choosing a remote controlled car and that I had to pick one that would be fast and good to control. I chose one that could flip onto its back and carry on driving thanks to the huge tires which allowed us to create all kinds of assault courses and stunts to test it on. On the horizon was a remote controlled helicopter – but I’m not waiting for children to treat myself to that one.
While we had lots of big activities planned, it was probably the small little things that made me such a perpetually happy child. This included regularly just going for days out as a family which would mean going to the forest, to the beach or to more far off moors. And there we would always go for big walks but also spend time crabbing, climbing on rocks, eating in cafes or exploring caves. I later learned that this was more at my Mum’s insistence as my Dad was never big on exercise, but I still loved the days out and the enthusiasm for exploring he had when we got there.
This was another of my favourite things to do when I was younger – going on midnight drives meant just the two of us would go for a drive where we would normally have some kind of goal such as spotting rabbits or looking for UFOs and star gazing. When we did the midnight drive we would take a flask of tea, or buy some chips from Harry Ramsden’s, and then we’d find somewhere remote to sit and consume while we chatted. I of course was very excited to be up so late, but sadly I never made it back with my eyes open. I’ve always loved the stars and just recently I got given a ‘Newtonian Reflector’ telescope – which would be great to take on future drives when I’m the Dad.