How to stay connected with your kids through the years

As a daddy to six children who range in age from 13 months to 26 years old, I have been through it all. And I know it can be difficult with the ever-changing stages of life, growth and maturity to stay connected to the kids you love so much. Here are a few easy tips to help you stay connected with your little ones – and your not-so-little ones!

Off to College: You have been so used to seeing that smiling face daily, that now that your baby has gone to college, you are probably going through withdrawals. Thanks to Facebook, Skype and Twitter, you can stay connected from afar. Keep in mind that posting something on Facebook is posting something in front of the entire world, so try not to be too embarrassing. Save the “don’t forget to floss” and “wear clean underwear” bit for the Skype session later.

Teenage Mania: In high school and middle school, it is all about keeping up appearances. Being Facebook friends with your parents is a total no-no. Take advantage of the fact that your sweet angel still dwells under your roof and have family dinners and family activities as much as possible. As a daddy of a teenager, you want to give the kiddos their space while still hovering closely with a watchful eye. Outside of the house, make sure you attend all the important events: sports games, school plays, band recitals, parades and school conferences.

School Days: Kids in elementary school are just grown babies in a sense. At that age, my daughters were still naive enough to ask me to French braid their hair. Whether you’re trying your hand at the French braid – which, trust me, is quite difficult – or you are helping your child with his or her math homework, take advantage of all this special time together. At this age, being a scout leader or a coach is also a great way to spend time, communicate and bond with your little ones.

Weebles, Wobbles: Toddlers are amazing. They are learning, exploring, playing and loving. It is your responsibility as a daddy to roll up your sleeves, get on the floor and just play with your toddler. The sky is the limit, really – at this age, kids will play with anything. Get outside, explore, ride bikes, try new things – but most importantly, have fun being a daddy!

New Baby: If you have an infant in your home, you are exhausted. Push past your fatigue and enjoy the simple pleasures of bonding with your new baby. Be a part of the feeding and the bathing of your baby. Help put your baby to sleep and help soothe him when he wakes in the night. Connecting with your infant child creates a bond that will last a lifetime.

Daddy Nickell, father of 6, founder of and the Daddyscrubs parenting blog.

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