Let the Selfies Begin: Creative Summer Fun for Dads & Kids

by Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield

The past few years have been intense, as we all know. Not only have we been struck with a pandemic and political and social unrest, but it seems like shootings in schools and stores and other places are continually on the rise.

If you’re feeling the heaviness like I am, maybe it’s time for more happy, uplifting and fun points of connection with your kids.

Translation: Your son and daughter are in desperate need of more positive interactions with you (probably more than they know).

If you’re ready to lead by activating more fun at home, I have a practical idea so you can make that happen.

My dad and I started this silly tradition back in 2010, and I want to share it in the hope that you do something similar with your children this week or sometime this summer to increase laughter and strengthen your bond while decreasing their stress (and yours).

It all started when my dad and I began grocery shopping together on Monday nights. At first it was a one-time thing, but somehow it became a weekly tradition.

Slow but sure, we began to notice that the often-dreaded job of walking through food aisles with lists in hand became much more fun when we joined forces. I guess you could say that we found a new way to bond as dad and daughter while journeying the long corridors of jars and cans, boxes and bags.

Then somewhere along the way we began taking goofy pictures with things we’d find around the store. First there were silly hats we forced each other to wear at Christmastime…

Followed by seasonal items here or there…

…Until finally it became a weekly challenge to find random items to stick on our heads for a crazy photo op. (I’m not quite sure how headwear became “the thing,” but it did!)

Now I’ll let you in on the real scoop: I was usually the one who talked my dad into doing these inane poses. Often he was past the point of embarrassment, trying to get the pictures done fast and in the least conspicuous way as possible. But he really was always a great sport, entering in fully, and in the end we were always laughing.

And life is too short not to laugh a bit more, don’t you think?!

As you can see, whether we were donning hats or pails, fruit or ribbon, it didn’t matter.

What mattered was that we were creating a forever memory.

And what I love is that none of this cost anything, except a little time and creativity. In fact, this tradition is one that I treasure deep in my heart and every once in a while we still activate our dad-daughter selfie tradition.

And now that I’m married, I’m so thankful that I have these years of crazy pictures and fun memories with my dad.

The bottom line is that my dad joined in because he loves me. He put up with my silliness because he enjoys having fun with me.

Your son and daughter need this kind of fun, silly, bonding time with you, dad.

And I suggest that you do this with one of them at a time. Focus on spending time together with just the two of you and watch it become a special, memory-making activity. Then repeat it or do something similar with another child and share your pics with each other afterwards. Selfies might be more appealing to daughters than sons, but then again, you’ll never know unless you try!

Before I wrap this up, I’ve got one last question for you, one that I’ve asked myself.

What if this dad-daughter selfie thing became a contagious nationwide phenomenon where dads (or mentor dads, foster dads, step dads, etc.) and kids across America started taking selfies in stores with whatever items they could find, and then shared them on social media?

So I’m inviting you to join me and my dad in this crazy, silly, fun, funny venture.

If you post on Facebook, be sure to tag me — here’s my page — or on Instagram @michellejwatson — or on Twitter @mwatsonphd. Use the hashtag #fatherchildselfie and … let the photos begin!

Read more of Michelle’s articles here.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield is a licensed professional counselor in Portland, Oregon, founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum for dads of daughters (ages 13 to 30), and author of Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters and Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart (both available on Amazon and Audible). She also hosts a weekly radio program in Portland called “The Dad Whisperer,” which you can access as a podcast on her website and on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play Music. Visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.

Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • Try it, dad. Take your child with you to the store and look for odd or silly items to include in a selfie.
  • Another great idea: when you’re at a store, coffee shop or gas station, challenge your family members to look for people to help in some way, whether they simply open a door for someone, let them go in front of you, pay for their order, or … find another way to make someone’s day better.
  • Your child needs “more positive interactions.” What’s the tone of your usual interactions with your kids? Make it a goal to initiate at least one positive interaction with each of your kids every day.
  • What makes your child laugh? Do something with your child or as a family that has the simple goal of laughing together.
  • Michelle’s dad was stretched out of his comfort zone (at least at first) during their shopping excursions. What’s a meaningful way you could show your love and commitment to your child that might not be easy or natural for you?

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.

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