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Fathers, here’s how to date your children

With five kids running amok in our house, it was sometimes easy to get caught up in the business of just living. I had to be intentional to give them the part of me their hearts longed for. So, every Saturday mornings while Karen blissfully slept in, I took the whole lot of them out to the bea…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

With five kids running amok in
our house, it was sometimes easy to get caught up in the business of just living. I had to be intentional to give them the part of me their hearts longed for.

So, every Saturday mornings while Karen
blissfully slept in, I took the whole lot of them out to the beach (we lived in
West Palm).

On the drive there we’d play
games that we made up on the spot (ask my kiddos about “the rhyming game”), and then
on the way home we’d usually stop at the library to get books, and a French bakery to get some
wonderful hot bread.

With so many of them, it was easy to lose a sense of connection with them as individuals. So periodically, I’d take them
out as individuals. They loved a local
bagel place that served hot chocolate. I
don’t know what we talked about, but it was being alone with dad that was

We also had a regular daily time – when
I came home from work, they knew that I was in “play mode.” We usually went to the park accompanied by a
gaggle of their friends. Tag, pushing
the merry-go-round, see-saws, and pushing them on the swing were standard
fare. But we added games that we’d make
up on the spot too. We’ve got videos of
our weed-fights, kind of a souped-up pillow fight except with very tall
weeds. Or there was the game where I’d
pull them around on palm fronds.

In fact, I’ll ask my kiddos to
add their own recollections in the comment section below should you need help
with your creativity quotient after a hard day at the office.

One of the things they loved most
when they were smaller was to carouse on the carpet. I’m pretty sure that all dads know how to
play horsey or airplane (balancing them on your feet as you lay on your back). And when they’d just about exhausted me
there, we’d turn on loud music and all five of us would dance to it, two hanging on my back, one in my arms, and two on the floor!

Let me encourage you fathers (and moms) to allocate
at least an hour a day to this stuff – it will be good for you and your kids will always be anchored to your heart for them. If you need help in coming up with
creative dates, check out this book 24 Dates With My Dad. Have fun!

Comments (7)

  • I remember the first time my dad let me come to the sports bar with him to watch football after church on Sunday. For about 7 years I didn’t even know what football was, but I felt like a man, even though I was only 8 years old. This developed into a passionate love for the Redskins. My dad and I still update each other on the goings on of the offseason and leave the women home after church to enjoy the games. When we didn’t connect on much else, there was always football (we also played football outside every day for many years).

    Recently, as I enter into manhood (ahem ahem) and try to connect with my father on a new level, it’s been imperative that I am open, vulnerable, and share the same intentionality. It’s pretty hard to have a relationship with someone when only one party is intentional about it. And when I didn’t want to be, he gave me space and tried to get his friends to do what he couldn’t.

    Having a great relationship with a father is not always easy. I’ve had the tremendous privilege of having a father that genuinely wants to hang out with me.

    Thank you, Dad that you never gave up on me. Even when I was at college and didn’t make much effort to talk with you, I knew you were praying for me, waiting for me to come around. It didn’t always want to hang around you, but you made it easy for me to come back. Now, my heart is burdened for you when you are going thru rough times. I’ve cried myself to sleep for times lost between us, knowing that years ago I had a father downstairs that cared and wanted to spend time with me and leaving that for whatever else. Now that’s gone and I have to work with what I’ve got. I just praise God that when I wanted back on board, you were there waiting with arms open. I love you deeply and want to connect with you on a deeper level each day.

    Thank you Dad.

  • Wow, Seth Jr.s comment should be the follow up blog to this one, what a great perspective! All of the Barnes children are fabulous, and all very different from each other, we are crazy about each of them, and one thing they all have in comman is a deep love, admiration and respect for you and Karen,
    you guys are my heros! well done, Seth you are a wonderful father, and prince of a man,
    love you,

  • The thing my dad didn’t say was that he was also giving that piece of him away to all the other children who needed a daddy to play with them.

    I remember when he would come home from work (in Florida) and after your five minutes peace, all the Barnes children would stream to the playground (located in our backyard) and yell, “My Dad’s pushing!!!” (the merry-go-round). It was like the Pied Piper. Within minutes kids from every single house on the block rushed to the playground to be pushed by our dad. He would make a game of counting to ten and going all the way up to rocket speed. We all loved it. He was the only dad on the whole block (except for maybe Bubba and Mr. Aubry) who played with us and everyone else. We had tons of made up games: Puffing Joy, we sat on his back backwards and he jumped around, Guava fights (we utilized the rotten guava fruit from our tree well), Run Away – souped up version of Chase – everyone chased dad.

    One thing I never questioned growing up, my dad loved me, believed in me and thought I could conquer the world (which I still plan on doing).

  • Froggy Time ladies and gentleman. My dad, always full of energy for us kids, would pretend like he was the daddy frog and us little scrawny ‘ole kiddos would flop on his back, hanging on for dear life as he hopped gigantic leaps around the house looking for flies(the unfortunate siblings waiting for their turns on the daddy frog). We would scream and giggle pointing at the scurrying flies who shook with fear as the daddy frog came to eat them! He would slow down as soon as we got within three feet and go one leg at a time, each step bringing more rapturous, giggling, terror to the unlucky fly. This was great.

    He would take us on dates and we’d get all dolled up for ice cream or wherever. He would teach us to make dripping sand castles when we went to the beach. Physical show of affection was always important to me. I used to count how many hugs I could give him each day (I remember the last time I counted was like 83). I remember giving him strict instructions to “not help me!” as I attempted a Mount-Everest-climb up to his shoulders when I was six. And even when he is doing his work on the computer, I’ll sometimes go cuddle with him and he’ll hold me under his arm. Especially a girl looking for love growing up it helps getting hugs from a daddy that cares.

    Something else dad is good at is making one feel valued. He doesn’t shoot down many of my dumb ideas but takes interest in talking with me, which makes me trust him more, and enables me to feel more comfortable approaching him about more things in my life.

    I love you so much Papa. Thank you for all the best memories.

    P.S. Yes, I am missing a tooth in that picture, a sad phase in my life. Also a dad with an excellent sense of humor…ahem…

  • Well, I’m with the Blacks and the tears are starting…

    Love your sweet family and you Seth. I’ve told you many times already but I have to say it again – I didn’t just get a boss when I came on at AIM, I got a “Dad” too. I’m so thankful for you believing in me, cheering me on, and fighting for me to become my best! I thank God for you and for your whole family! So grateful to have The Barnes in my life!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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