52 Things Kids Need from a Dad

52 Things Kids Need from a Dad

Jay PayleitnerBy Jay Payleitner7 Minutes

Book Excerpt from 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad: What Fathers Can Do to Make a Lifelong Difference by Jay Payleitner


Need #28

Kids need their dad …

To Respond with Something

Besides “Read a Book” When Kids

Say “There’s Nothing to Do”


Around mom, most kids have learned not to whine “I’m soooo bored. There’s nothing to do.” They are well aware mom will bury them with household chores like “Empty the dishwasher,” “Vacuum the living room,” or “Do a load of laundry.”

But dad, your job is to have a much more creative and motivating answer. If you don’t, your kids are going to end up wasting precious hours of their life watching TV, playing video games, and staying way clear of mom.

I suggest you suggest . . .

Fly a kite. | Build a kite. | Build a model rocket. | Write a book. |Write a poem. | Plant a tree. | Bait a hook. | Bake some cookies. | Bake some apples (cored, filled with cinnamon, wrapped in foil). | Play checkers.

Play chess. | Play speed chess. | Invent a new game with a checkerboard and checkers. | Jump rope. | Play hopscotch. | Play rock, scissors, paper. | Teach rock, scissors, paper to a four-year-old. | Invent a new app for your iPhone. | Go to the library. | Learn the Dewey Decimal System.

Start a business. | Design a business card. | Put on a puppet show. | Cut snowflakes from white printer paper. | Make a mix DVD for your favorite uncle. | Get a big jar, fill it with sand and ants for a homemade ant farm. | Drop a donut next to an anthill and see what happens. | Visit grandma. | Visit the older lady down the street. | Visit a cemetery.

Mow the grass. | Trim the hedges. | Hold a tea party. | Play twenty questions. | Think up twenty great tweets, then join Twitter with something worth saying. | Start a blog. | Fix the fence. | Build a shelf. | Carve a bar of soap. | Carve a potato.

Play Frisbee®. | Play Ultimate Frisbee. | Lay out a Frisbee golf course in your neighborhood. | Find the most awesome Psalm. | Memorize it. | Make a huge tub of homemade bubble solution (two-thirds cup of Joy® or Dawn®, one gallon cold water, three tablespoons of glycerin or light corn syrup) and then fashion a giant bubble wand out of a coat hanger or even a hula hoop. | Find a pen pal. | Fill a photo album. | See what’s under the couch cushions. | Sweep the front sidewalk.

Wash the car. | Wash your bike. | Wash the dog. | Play kick the can or ghost in the graveyard. | Play capture the flag. | Play spud. | Play home run derby or Peggy Roll Up. | Find a long plastic paint tarp, add dishwashing liquid and a garden hose and make a giant slip ‘n slide. | Make an animated cartoon by drawing stick figures on the bottom of consecutive pages of a pad of paper. | Do leaf rubbings. | Do gravestone rubbings.

Identify birds. | Climb a tree. | Think up an animal beginning with every letter of the alphabet. | Make a tie-dye T-shirt. | Paper airplanes. | Origami. | Hacky-Sack. | Peel an apple. | Harass a sibling. | Practice shuffling cards. | Learn a magic trick.

Play Candyland® with your little sister. | Do math worksheets (Yikes!). | Play Hide n’ Seek. | Play Sardines. | Make a tent out of blankets. | Collect some bugs. | Make a campfire. | Memorize the Presidents. | Memorize the Presidents and recite them as fast you can. | Learn the Greek alphabet. | Learn the American Sign Language alphabet.

Worth noting. Don’t let age be a limitation. Those last two ideas (learning the Greek and ASL alphabets) were accomplished by our eldest, Alec, before he went to Kindergarten. By second grade he could recite the Presidents in under nine seconds.

Of course, the list is really endless. But every year it gets harder and harder to pry kids away from the old electronic standbys. It might cause a short term mutiny in your home, but I totally recommend unplugging that TV or banning video games for a week or a month and see what transpires. They may never go back! (My small group leader, Dave, has unplugged the family television for almost the entire summer the last four years, so it can be done.)

Take Away

Despite this wonderful list, understand that most of the time your kids don’t want your ideas, they want you.

Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.”  — John Wilmot (1647 – 1680)

Order your copy of 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad: What Fathers Can Do to Make a Lifelong Difference by Jay Payleitner

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