This is our favorite thing to do. I will caution you ahead of time, if you have an unruly brood like ours it will be imperative that you read all of my hints and tips. Otherwise you will walk down the long and whiny road toward jealousy and physical aggression. Think WWF on steroids
Ok...so date night. Don't get excited this is NOT for the parents. Although it is my humble opinion that you must cultivate and nurture your marriage, that is for another blog.This particular date takes a lot of time and discernment. This is not about being fair or equal. Lets be honest...parenting is not fair and equal. It is about prioritizing needs and wants. It is similar to a mass emergency where you label the wounded. Red is critical, yellow is middle of the row and green is get to it when you do. If you are like us we usually spend every night surveying the disaster site, tracking the damage and regrouping for the next around
Using this dramatic explanation you discern which child needs you the most. It may be a daughter that needs her father or a son that needs both parents. Either way you agree on who needs what and make your plan. We usually wait no more than a few days to put the plan in action.After careful consideration the date is planned
Here's a recent example... Emma seemed to be really struggling with connecting to me. Lets put it this way, she is my sweet girly girl and I am the grunge girl. At times we struggle to find common ground. It is so important for a parent to cultivate that connection.
Understand I did not say friendship. This is a huge mistake people make when parenting. I want our kids to know they can tell me anything. But, I also want them to understand my high expectations that need to be met. If I try to connect with them I believe they will make an equal effort to meet my expectations. In other words I am not the over anxious middle schooler making a call to their first boyfriend hoping they don't answer. I am the cool, confident high school senior giving you permission to eat at my table. Ya dig?
Ok...back to the date. She wanted to see the Hunger Games and we told her we thought this was too mature for her. Shawn reminded me how she had been more responsible lately. I used that reminder as the basis for our date. I kept it cheap...$1 movie theater, but blew it up with movie treats. This made it immensely special as we are the family that smuggles in snacks and pops in huge purses and "medically necessary" backpacks, much to Emma's chagrin. I really talked with her and even kept eye contact. I listened to her. I even shut off my cell phone! We talked after the movie and discussed some of the big social issues. I asked her opinions and had uninterrupted time to listen.Better yet? She asked me mine and listened.
It was an opportunity to connect to a child that was feeling left behind by a parent who would give her the moon and Sun for a smile. It was a worthwhile investment that gave me more presently than it gave her. It was a worthwhile investment that will give her more in the future than it will me. Ya dig?