Quite naturally, your great task during the fathering stage of Understanding—when kids are about 5 to 12—is to discover your child’s learning style and then do all you can to encourage his education, whether at school, during play time, at church, or other activities.
But four other tasks also come to mind during this stage:
First, help your children establish a link to the outside world. Someday they’ll leave home, but right now, while they’re just exploring, there’s no better guide than you, dad.
That means it’s you driving your boy to T-ball practice. You drop him off, and then it’s off to pick up your daughter at soccer practice. You may feel like nothing more than a taxi driver, but you’re the all-important home base of support for your child. Encourage him to be involved in a variety of activities, but don’t push him so hard that he burns out on them.
Establishing a link also means you’re keeping up on your child’s involvements. Attend PTA meetings, ask questions about how your child interacts with his teacher and classmates, find out if he is receiving the things he needs. If he isn’t, it’s up to you to make the necessary changes.
The second issue during the stage of Understanding is rekindling your relationship with your wife. That’s more important to your children than you may realize. The kids are out of diapers and they no longer demand your undivided attention. Drop them off at Grandma’s and get away for a weekend together. Rediscover your love for your wife, and you’ll provide a wealth of security for your young ones.
Number three: Encourage your child’s spiritual development. Children at this age are exploring the world, and that includes the spiritual world. They ask some pretty probing questions, and they want answers that aren’t scientific or even theologically advanced. Know what you believe, establish a standard of truth, and assist your child in doing the same. Use their curiosity to rekindle your own faith!
Finally, keep leaning against your support network of other dads. You can work together, get feedback, hold each other accountable, and help each other become better fathers.