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From Good to GREAT: Secrets On Becoming A Better Dad

While most fathers aspire to become the best Dads they can, all too often life just seems to get in the way. Missed soccer games and bedtime stories, always "In a minute" or "Later" when asked to play. The years pass, and many are left to wonder why their kids don't seem to make time for THEM any more.

As fathers, if we are to succeed in creating strong meaningful lasting bonds with our children, we need to find balance in our lives, and to ensure we make time for our family-letting them get to know the real us. No time? Don't worry! It's easier than you think. Here are seven easy ways to add quality time to your week:

I will cut back on the amount of work I bring home. This will give you more time to spend with your kids at night and on the weekends. While you might not be able to accomplish quite as much work, you will still be able to maintain a good reputation with customers and peers. Still have some work you need to finish at home? Try to wait until the kids are asleep before starting it. If this is not possible, explain to them that you have to work for a set amount of time (say an hour), but then you will be theirs.

I will give them my undivided attention. Whether it is exploring a frog pond, making pizza, or reading stories together before bed, your kids should know you are theirs and theirs alone. By being "present in the moment" during play or discussions, you show them how important they are to you. Avoid being an "unconscious parent"-doing one thing but thinking of another. Be there in body as well as in mind and spirit.

Together we will create family rituals. Family movie/games night? Weekend or holiday traditions? Consider starting a family scrapbook and/or photo album. Together you can decide which items (photos, souvenirs, etc.) should go in it, and the captions or comments to be written. Not only does this create a family keepsake, recording a portion of your family life and history, but it allows you to recall moments in your lives ? laughing, joking and reliving the good times all over again ? together. After all, the best souvenirs are the memories that we make.

I will keep distance from separating us. Need to spend time away from home? Read and record a favourite storybook for your kids to listen to while you are gone. Take photos or artwork with you on the road or to the office. Set regular call or email times. Explain how you will "beam your love off the moon" to them. If they miss you at night, they merely have to look at the moon and know you are sending them love.

I will work to make ordinary things fun. Who says washing dishes, cleaning up, or walking to the store for milk has to be boring. By turning things into games, or using your imagination, the unexciting everyday jobs that make up a large part of our lives can be made interesting, or at least more bearable. Life is what we make of it-and much of that is dependent on the attitude from which we approach it.

I will let my kids get to know me. Sure, they know "Dad", but what about the other parts of your personality? As is appropriate for their ages, begin sharing your thoughts and dreams with them. Let them know that you too get scared sometimes, or wonder what the future will hold. Tell them about when you were a boy, and some of the good and not-so-good times and experience you had growing up. Do they know your passions? If, for instance, you love the outdoors and art, then share these by going on hikes, canoeing, and exploring art galleries with your kids. Add new dimensions to familiar activities as you re-experience them through your children's eyes.

I will work to keep involved in my teen's life. Find common interests with your teen, or show an interest in the things that are important to them. Attend their sporting events or games. Help them with their job searches. Show your support by driving them to interviews, or helping to fill out applications or write resumes. Offer to go shopping, or drive them to the mall. Let them teach you the latest video game or poker variation. Show a positive interest in the person they are dating. This one can be particularly difficult, especially when you meet the boy your daughter is currently dating!

Both success and failure are largely the result of habits. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn has observed the formula for failure is nothing more than, "A few errors in judgment repeated every day." The key is to replace the bad habits or routines with winning strategies, transforming it into a formula for success, "A few simple disciplines practiced every day."

Spending quality time with your kids is easy ? and important. Just remember, it's not so much about what you do, but that you do it. So take a break from your busy schedule, have some fun with your kids ? and begin making memories that will last a lifetime.

Award-winning educator, author & parent coach, Rob Stringer is currently working on his first book, Parenting with Intention, and has launched a free monthly newsletter by the same name. Visit http://www.ParentingWithIntention.ca to subscribe, access resources, or learn more about PWI's parent coaching services.

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