Fishing and boating are extremely popular. About 87 million adults, a lot of them probably dads, already enjoy recreational boating. That’s not even counting the 11.6 million kids who fish on a regular basis. Is your kid one of them? If fishing is a hobby that you and your kid enjoy together, here’s why you should connect with your kid and make time for a trip sooner rather than later.
Spending time in nature is healthy
Besides being so common, a fishing trip, whether on a boat or just sitting on a nearby dock, puts you in a unique situation to connect with your kid. Most of the time, you’ll be in an area where there’s no Wi-Fi, so you can kiss your iPhone goodbye for a few hours, at least. On top of that, fishing requires hands-on focus for longer periods of time, which means Twitter is off the table. And just like that, no phones means more time to have a real, face to face conversation. Wild. This is where you get to be a great dad. It’s the perfect opportunity to actually talk to your kid about their life.
Fishing also puts you smack in the middle of nature and lets you indulge in a hobby that you and your kid might not get to on a day to day basis. In today’s age, it seems to be the default for all of us to stay inside and get glued to social media. Sticking your head out the door and spending time outside is the best medicine for that disease. This is also a hobby that you and your kid have connected over before. Making the time to do this together again is important.
A chance to actually connect with your kid
When talking with your kid, it can be easy to resort to simple yes or no questions to keep the conversation going. However, playing 20 Questions is only harming the conversation. Whether you know it or not, surface-level questions are actually really annoying. Your kid won’t tell you because they might not know how, but it’s your job as a dad to see through that nonsense. Take it from Susan Smith Kuczmarski, Ed.D., the author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent’s Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go. She says our kids “often find the questions we ask intrusive and annoying.”
Instead, ask open-ended questions about what your kid is passionate about. What makes them happiest? This gives your kid the opportunity to open up and share major things that are affecting their life.
A chance for you to flex your kid listening skills
Being a good listener is essential when you want to connect with your kid. You’re already doing something that they’re interested in. Great! Now, make sure you listen when they talk to you out here. If you keep interrupting or taking control of the conversation, your kid is going to shut you out. It’s also rude to interrupt.
By listening first, you’re allowing your kid to explore their thoughts freely, possibly coming to realizations that can only come when talking through things. As a father, it’s your job to help them through this experience, asking deeper questions or providing advice or anecdotes only when appropriate and when your kid has finished their thought.
It’s tough being a dad, but it pays off when you can have moments like this with your kids. Making the time to indulge in a hobby you both already love can make connecting with your kid that much easier, too. Social media and technology might make it seem like sunshine and rainbows for kids these days, but it opens up more opportunities for isolation than connection. Take the time to connect with your kid. Get into nature, go on a fishing trip, and remember why you both love to fish in the first place. When you take these opportunities to connect with your kid, you’ll always be reminded of how great it is to be a dad.