Be a DIY Dad

Smiling father watching son who is concentrating on sawing a piece of wood

There are times when all kids need their dad. Unfortunately, a father rarely knows when these moments will arrive. The best choice is to simply be there every chance you get, even if that means rearranging your schedule, passing on a promotion or putting one of your passions on hold for a few years. That way, you'll have a chance to help your kid build a pair of stilts.

Yes, stilts. Trust me. Kids love the idea of being taller. And you can finish this project in a single, relaxing afternoon. Find plans online if you like, but really, this is a piece of cake. Grab a couple of 1-by-2 boards, measure and cut, secure the triangular footrests, smooth a few sharp corners, and you're done. If you're an experienced woodworker, you're already two steps ahead of me.

Creative answers

Of course, this project isn't just about measuring and sawing, drilling and sanding. It's about building a family, living life together and learning stuff along the way. It's about being a dad who is available for fun little projects, as well as the deeper conversations that often come up while you're working. And it's about seizing one of your main opportunities as a dad: to offer a creative answer when your kid says, "I'm soooo bored." If you aren't prepared, your kid may end up wasting precious hours of his life watching TV or playing video games.

So go make something. Do something. Build a bookshelf or a birdhouse. Take your kid outside to help you fix the fence or trim the hedges. Drop a doughnut next to an anthill and see what happens. Take a walk through a cemetery. Carve a potato on the front porch. Or whip up a huge tub of homemade bubble solution and fashion a giant bubble wand out of a hula hoop. You get the idea.

Glimpse into the future

Back to those stilts: I say just do it. Don't think about it. Don't wait for just the right time. If you don't have the right materials, go to your local home improvement center, buy some wood and get to work. You'll be done before dinner.

And when your child does get that little height boost, suddenly your grade-schooler will be looking you right in the eye. That glimpse into the future makes the whole afternoon worthwhile.

Jay Payleitner is the author of several books on marriage and parenting, including the recently-released 52 Things Daughters Need From Their Dads: What fathers can do to build a lasting relationship.

This article appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2013 by Jay Payleitner. Used by permission.

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