For many dads, spending time with a preteen is a bit of a challenge. Preteens have different “requirements,” so to speak, and different wants and needs than younger kids. Dads may feel like their preteen children are drifting away from them, but their emerging independence is actually a good thing. It doesn’t mean they don’t want and need you to spend time with them.
For preteens – that is, children aged approximately 9 to 12 – there are some special times you can spend together. Here are some tips for dads who are looking for ways to spend time with their preteens.
Here are some fun ideas for dads and preteen boys.
* Make a meal for Mum – Get together with your son and plan a meal for his mum (or aunt, grandmother, or other woman who means a lot to you both). This helps teach your son how to be helpful and do things for the women in his life (his future wife will thank you!). It also is a fun bonding activity. Breakfast is a good place to start. Breakfast foods tend to be forgiving and leave room for creativity (like pancakes, pap, akara, yam and fried eggs). You and your son can plan the whole meal, from shopping list to serving, and do all the steps together.
* Get together with other dads – See if you can get together with your son’s friend’s dads, and plan a group outing. You can go to a lounge and chill or just go to a movie together. You could even just go out to a meal together. The point is, getting with other dads can help you with other ideas for get-togethers and your son will get to spend time with you and his friends.
* Camping – Taking your son camping can be as elaborate as a weekend overnight in a boys scout organization (most orthodox churches have it e.g. Royal Ambassadors for the Baptist Churches). Camping is something that preteen boys tend to really enjoy.
Dads may feel like they don’t relate to their daughters much as they hit the preteen years. But your little girl still needs you and wants to spend time with you, so try some of these ideas.
* Out for a meal – Taking your daughter to a restaurant is a simple activity that can mean a lot to a young girl. You might make it a regular thing, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner or just a coffee break in the mid-afternoon.
* Shopping – Don’t let the concept of shopping scare you away from spending this precious time with your daughter. Make it a shopping trip for a specific item, like a birthday present for a friend, family member, or sibling. Or maybe take her shopping for a Mother’s Day gift. If you like, you might buy her a little piece of jewelry or something similar to remember your shopping trip.
* Entertainment – Take your daughter to a movie, or read a book with her over the summer. Talk about what you think of the movie or book. It will become something you both know about, and it gives you a “door” into your daughter’s world.
Just be at ease with your pre-teen kids. They’re growing, so you as a father needs to come down to their level and reason like them. It might be tough, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Remember, it’s the bond you share now that would take you till your old age.