What’s your secret to a strong family?

Dad, what’s your secret to bonding with your children? There is compelling research on what makes a great father, as detailed in the 7 Secrets of Effective Fathers book.

But along with that, we must also allow every dad room to find his own expressions of fatherhood—things that are unique about him, his children, his situation, where he lives, and so on. There is power in simply having fun together in your own way.

family-carrying-boat-to-lakeYears ago, someone asked author Gary Smalley, “What’s your secret to a strong family?” His answer was simply, “Get a trailer hitch.” For him, that captured the magic of afternoons and weekends out camping, boating, or doing whatever with the kids. The larger idea here is important: If we put forth the effort to plan family adventures, fun, crazy and amazing things will happen that will bond us together with our children—and we will discover new things about them at the same time.

Gary’s idea is a great one, but you can bond with your children in all kinds of creative ways. Just be aware of where your children are developmentally and what they enjoy. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Give your kids a budget and then have fun buying ingredients and preparing a meal together for the family. Resist the temptation to control the menu too much. No veggies and all dessert is okay for one meal—if that’s what they want. Great time together is the goal.
  • Try having special family nights where one person gets to be in charge of the menu and all the plans, then someone else does it the next time. Again, set a budget, but they can have the family do whatever they want. (It just has to be something they think everyone will enjoy.)
  • Take turns planning outings to fun and out-of-the-way places in your area that you’ve never visited before.
  • Have a pancake breakfast where the kids get to use anything they want as a topping. (Let Mom sleep in if she wants.)
  • Plant a tree, some flowers, vegetables, or other plants together, and let your children help you choose what to plant.
  • Have a night where everyone plays the role of a different family member. (Just make sure it doesn’t get too sarcastic or cruel.)

Dad, it’s really just a matter of setting aside time, coming up with a fun agenda and then doing it. Maybe you can start easy, with a fun Saturday breakfast once a month, and go from there. But there really is power in shared activities where the main goal is just having fun.

What’s your secret to a strong family? What unique ways have you found to bond with your children? Please send your ideas our way and we’ll pass them on to other dads.


  • Start (or renew) a simple pastime that your family can enjoy together—doing puzzles, taking walks, making pizza, etc.
  • Before summer ends, plan an outdoor getaway with your kids that lasts half a day or more.
  • Look over your family budget and find a way to build in savings for fun family activities, such as collecting coins or setting aside a small percentage of each month’s salary and allowances.
  • Start gradually moving your children back into school-year routines when it comes to bedtimes, some reading every day, etc.
  • Have your child join you in a project around the house, and try to make it fun (even though the project will take much longer to complete).

 Be the Coolest Dad on the Block by Simon Rose & Steve CaplinRecommended Resource:
Be the Coolest Dad on the Block by Simon Rose and Steve Caplin

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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