Recently I was reading a article about how Americans spend time each day. I wasn't surprised. We have an average of 5.3 hours of leisure time each day, and we spend more than half of it watching TV. What did surprise me was this stat from fivethirtyeight.com: from 2010 to 2014, parents had deliberate conversations with their children for, on average, only 3 minutes a day.
So the average Dad will spend 178.5 minutes a day watching TV and only 3 minutes a day intentionally talking with each of his children.
Each day we spend more time getting dressed, waiting at a traffic light, or listening to a coworker's story than we do intentionally talking with our children. Wow! I was stunned by this statistic.
That is, until I began to rewind the tape from the day before and ask myself how much intentional time had I spend talking with each of my three children. I quickly realized that I too was a 3-minuter.
So what can a Dad do to deliberately spend more quality time with his children? What is the secret to being a good, connected, purposeful Father?
Then, it hit me. Why don't we each try the 1% Strategy? The 1% Strategy is simple. Each day contains 1,440 minutes. One percent of that = 14.4 minutes. If we spent 1% of our day intentionally engaging our kids, we would be doing 4X more than average. Could I make a commitment to talk with your son for 1% of each day? Could you join me?
Let's talk about a few steps we can take to head down this path toward being a more engaged dad:
- Pray - Acknowledge that it's easier for you to spend time watching TV than it is talking with your son. Admit that you want to do better - but aren't always sure how to do that.
- Make it a priority - Put it on your calendar. We put all of the other "important" appointments and commitments on our calendar. Is time with our son any less important?
- Share this with your spouse - As men, we need someone who will lovingly keep us accountable. I guarantee that if you share with your wife that you want to spend more time intentionally talking with your son - she'll be on board.
- Be creative - There is nothing that shuts a child down more than when a parent walks in and says, "So, how's it going? You want to talk about anything?" You can do better than that! Ask some good questions. Questions that don't yield simple yes or no answers. Questions like: What was the funniest (best) thing that happened today? If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Who is your best friend? If you could change one rule in our house, what would it be? What three words best describe you? What is God trying to teach you right now?
- Review - Take time at the end of each week to see how you are doing. Or, if you're feeling brave, ask your son how you are doing. You might be surprised at the answer you get.
Being a great Dad comes down to simply prioritizing intentional time with your son. And when you think about it, isn't he worth 1% of your day?