Having a close relationship with your children is something every parent desires. As a parent, you want to be your child's friend, confidant and mentor. But some children build an invisible barrier and attempt to hide details about their personal lives from those they love. Luckily, there is a way to break down that wall without sledgehammers and force: dates.

Ever since I was a little girl, my dad would take me on daddy-daughter dates. We would go get ice cream or go to the movies. He even took me hunting and fishing. These were never regularly scheduled dates (even though I wish they were) but they occurred often. They helped me establish a close relationship with my dad, which means everything to me. These dates also helped me through the rough teenage years when I needed advice and guidance.

Dating your child can be a success if you follow a few simple guidelines. Here are several ways you can make dating your child a sure win.

Go on single dates

It's OK to leave your spouse and other children at home while you date one child at a time. These one-on-one dates give you the opportunity to focus on your child's wants, needs, desires and accomplishments. When you bring other children along, the barriers may go up as your children feel like they have to compete for your undivided attention.

Put away the electronics

Just like with any other date, put away all distractions. Put your cell phone away, avoid looking things up on the Internet and just focus on your child. Also, make sure your child does the same. Any distractions can become a wall that prevents you from getting closer to one another.

Start dating when they are young

Begin dating your child when he is young. Children love to be with their parents. They will be much more eager and excited to spend time with you before their teenage years. If you can create the habit of dating your children when they are young, you won't have to push as hard for time together when they are teenagers, which will be a huge blessing in both of your lives.

Talk, talk, talk

Spend time talking. Ask your child about school, extracurricular activities, friends, ambitions and more. Strive to understand your child and use this time to find out what he wants in life. Additionally, if there is a disagreement or tension between the two of you, don't bring up the topic while on the date. Just enjoy one another's company and save the confrontation for a different time. The last thing you want is for your child to feel forced when he is with you.

Do something you both enjoy

These dates are all about having fun. Participate in activities that you both enjoy and take turns choosing the activity. This will give you a little variety and prevent the dates from feeling like a forced chore for your child.

Dating your child can be a wonderful opportunity and a way to create a strong relationship that will last for years to come. For a few nights each month, leave your spouse at home and date your child, instead.

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