Dr. Kyle Pruett, Yale University doctor and researcher writes, “The father as play partner is one of the most enduring findings in the research on the role of father in child development.”[i]
I remember an incident that occurred one afternoon when I was writing my book. My youngest (then about ten) came in and asked me, “Dad, I just wanted to know if you were available to come play with me for a while.”
I started to say, “No, not at the moment, buddy, I’m working right now.” And there are indeed times when this has to be said, but that day wasn’t honestly really one of them, though my inclination was to say it was and keep working. Instead, I said, “Sure. What do you want to do?”
“I just wondered if you’d come throw the ball with me for a while.”
And so we did. He especially wanted to work on catching ground balls and pop-ups he called “floaters.” It was a nice, playful connection with my son. We spent only about 30 minutes, and I then went back to writing, actually refreshed and feeling more creative. The break turned out to be good for me, too, and it communicated love to my son. He felt like he was more important to me than my work–which is a loving message I want to communicate.
Next time one of your kids asks you to play, take it seriously. Don’t just say no because you feel like it, it’s a habit, or you’re feeling a lot of pressure. If you honestly can’t play then, say so, but schedule a time you will, and stick to it. But if you can take a break for play, and then get back to your work, give it a try.
You may find it as helpful for you as it is for your kids.
[i] Pruett M.D., Fatherneed, 27.
To read more from Keith, take a look at his book: