Great connection is the bridge to great conversation. I realize that you are already great parents, desperately wanting to impart the right ingredients into your children. But let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to just bring up difficult conversations.
How can we breach these “talks” in a way that is natural, unplanned, and fun?
I recently had one of these difficult conversations with my 8-year-old daughter, and it was the result of great connection on her birthday. As I ponder how to communicate this to an audience of fellow Dads (and Moms), admittedly I’m torn. I have an opportunity to share an amazing story which will deeply impact those Dads, but I may violate the trust of my daughter if I share too much. This trust has taken 8 years to build, and it is the reason why I even have a story to write.
The best thing I can do is to share some creative approaches I’ve used over the years and the parts of the story that I know are okay and will add value to you.
How to Create Great Connection
Let’s take a quick look at Dadnamics–an approach I’ve used over the years to create fun experiences for my kids that provide incredible connection with them.
Close your eyes. Imagine an expansive jungle filled with wild gorillas, leopards, tarantulas, poisonous snakes, and suffocating tree vines. How would you survive this? Okay, now open your eyes and look ahead of you. Do you see it? It may look like the grocery story, or the post office, or even the hardware store, but really… I mean really, it’s the Amazon Jungle. Prep your kids before you enter this dangerous jungle that there is a mission to accomplish. Paint the picture of what you imagined a minute ago to those angels staring up at you, then GO!
As you traverse the aisles or the mailboxes, complete tasks and don’t be afraid to look silly. You will to most people, but not to your kids. This particular adventure is probably ideal for your 4 to 8-year-olds. That’s okay. You can design experiences for every age group. You just need to infuse creativity, adventure, and silliness. They will love going on errands with Dad or working on a project at home. I know because I have been doing it for years. I just didn’t capture these adventures on video until last year.
Here’s what happens. The great experience leads to great connection. And the great connection leads to great conversation.
The Great Conversation that Follows
Now, back to my daughter and our experience that led to an incredible conversation. On her 8th birthday, Dadnamics happened on center ice during public skating. We ice danced in front of everyone swirling around us. My princess loved it! There was an assortment of other things that my wife and I did with her that day, but it was one-on-one time with just her.
I tucked her in with my usual “Daddy Loves You Survey”, which goes like this…
“Who loves this girl?” I ask.
“Daddy does,” she replies, squeezing my neck in a hug.
“Do you know WHY I love you?” I whisper into her ear.
“Because I’m your daughter.”
“Will you ever NOT be my daughter?”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that you will never stop loving me.”
“That’s right honey. No matter what you ever do, right or wrong, I will always love you.”
I prayed over her, tucked her in, and kissed her on the forehead. But suddenly she was sobbing.
“Daddy, I’ve been keeping a secret from you and Mommy!”
Skid marks were impressed in my brain due to the massive yanking of the emergency brake!
Internal dialogue… “Okay, Ken. Stay calm. Keep your composure.”
“Umm, honey what do you mean?”
“Daddy, I’m struggling with what I’m looking at.”
Okay, back to the men reading this. We struggle with controlling our eyes, and many are caught in sexual addiction. I was… until I found an accountability partner. How terrifying is it to look past your own purity battle and focus on your child’s? Ouch!
I know you want the meat of the conversation that my wife and I had with our daughter, but I really can’t do that and stare into my daughter’s eyes after I hit “send.” So, here’s what I can share. We talked about God’s plan for her and her body and His plan for her brothers and their bodies.
“Our eyes are not meant to see certain things until a certain time. It’s God’s plan and it is wonderful. Do you trust me and Mommy?”
I smiled. “Okay, you are eight years old now. We will be teaching you a little bit more each year. We will not hold anything back that God wants us to tell you.”
I told her that keeping a secret from us, or unconfessed sin, wasn’t good. She had been holding this in for two months! It was eating at her, and she even struggled with bad dreams. I asked if she wanted me to pray with her to ask forgiveness.
“I feel lighter,” she told us after we prayed.
“That’s right, it’s like you were trying to swim with ankle weights. Now you’re free again, honey”
We kissed her good night, tickled our noses, and closed the door.
Dads, I urge you. If you struggle with this sin yourself, find a man to hold you accountable. It will be your lifeline at times of weakness. Of all the conversations that Dadnamics will help start, this is the BIG ONE that we need to be prepared and have a clear conscience for. If we don’t, our princess or prince will see past it. That happened to me as a boy, and it held me in chains for 20 years.
Ken Carfagno • Along his journey from artist to engineer to entrepreneur, Ken Carfagno became a dad. And like many new dads, his kids inspired a long-forgotten gift–Ken could make up stories and draw his kids into them. This sparked a dream that lead to Dadnamics, the infusion of creativity, adventure, and silliness into dad time. And hopefully, Dadnamics will spark a dream inside of you too, fellow Dads, and give you interactive and creative ideas to connect with your kids.