I overheard my son Connor telling his cousin Ben about the weekly fishing camp he attends, and how
he has learned about all kinds of fish, lures, methods and the like.
"That sounds really great," Ben replied. "Do you think your camp director would let me come
sometime? Maybe you could ask him!"
"Well probably, because he's my dad," Connor responded.
"Fishing camp" was something my husband devised as a way to spend time with Connor over the
summer and teach him more about a favorite shared pastime. It is a heartwarming sight to watch them -
fishing poles in one hand and tackle boxes in the other - walking side by side down to the lake in the
glow of the evening sun, their elongated shadows leading the way.
My husband, Brian, has always been really great at spending one-on-one time with our children. The
children can hardly contain their excitement when he announces it's time to schedule another round of
daddy/Connor, daddy/Isabel and daddy/Lucas dates. He's still working up the courage for a
daddy/Mason date with our ever-feisty but always-darling 2-year-old.
The daddy/child dates have consisted of going to a movie, going out to lunch, playing mini golf,
shopping for lip gloss and other pink and girly things, doing service for others, of course fishing, and
more. He generally lets the child dictate the activity, within reason.
These dates have created many lasting memories. But what the children really savor - even more than
the fun outing - is time alone with their dad.
An April 2012 Liahona article titled "Talk Time" offered this valuable advice:
"As fun as it is to talk as a family, it is also important for parents and children to spend one-on-one time together. Take advantage of moments during the day to visit with your children
individually. Invite one child at a time to help you complete a household chore, accompany you
on an errand, or chat with you in your room for a few minutes. Just a few short moments can
lead to meaningful conversations."
I find this generally describes the one-on-one time I have with the children: driving to an activity, running
an errand, and such. I'd like to instill more concrete mom/child dates, but either way, that alone time
with a child really does lead to meaningful conversation. And it's such a precious opportunity to really
get to know our children: who they are, what their strengths are, what things they struggle with, what
challenges they are facing and how we can do our part to help them become their best selves. It's a big
job; we ought to make more quality time for it.
Perhaps making one-on-one parent/child time in your family comes easily, or perhaps it's something
you want to make happen. A few suggestions:
1. Plan ahead, however that works in your family. My husband has a crazy schedule and often
works a lot of hours, but he makes time when he can. Sometimes the dates are more
spontaneous, other times they are more planned. Family Home Evening is a great time to
discuss schedules and work in some parent/child dates.
2. Keep it simple. Chances are, your kiddos will be thrilled to spend time alone with a parent, and
what the activity is will be secondary to that. Parent/child dates can easily be low-cost or no-cost. What can beat a hike in the outdoors with snacks brought from home?
3. Allow your children to be part of deciding what the activity is. Simultaneously, these outings can
be a great opportunity to expose your children to new interests/activities. On the most recent
daddy/Isabel date, Brian was (pleasantly) surprised when Isabel requested that they go fishing
together. She caught her first fish and talked non-stop the entire evening, surely giving Brian a
new sort of fishing experience that resulted in a fabulous experience for both of them. Consider
kicking around a soccer ball together, visiting a local museum or practicing photography
together. So often, we are willing to shell out money to someone else to teach things to our
child, when in some cases, we can do the job ourselves.
One-on-one time is a fantastic way to establish an open dialogue between family members. No matter
how you cast it, you're surely guaranteed to reel in something great.
Melissa Howell was born and raised in the woods of northern Minnesota. She has a degree in
journalism from the University of Minnesota.
As a single 20-something, she moved to Colorado seeking an adventure. She found one, first in
landing her dream job and then in landing her dream husband; four children followed.
Upon becoming a mother, she left her career in healthcare communications to be a stay-at-home
mom, and now every day is an adventure with her husband Brian and children Connor (9), Isabel
(6), Lucas (5) and Mason (2).
In addition, she is a freelance writer and communications consultant for a variety of
Melissa serves as Assistant director of media relations for stake public affairs and Webelos den leader