Special Night: Easy One-on-One Time With Your Children

I don’t know about you, but I love spending time with my kids one-on-one. There’s just something special about it that can’t be duplicated when we’re all together. And this is especially true now that they’re getting older and have more to share with me. But it can be tough to find that time for one-on-one time; especially when they’re older, it seems like they’re always busy doing their own thing. But preserving that bond is so important, and there’s no better time than a special night set aside just for the two of you. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your time together.


First, let’s look at some research.

My daughter and I at a “paint night” at the local art studio.

Researchers Opondo, Redshaw and Savage-McGlynn[1]https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e012034 found that the father’s perspective on his role as a parent had an impactful effect on their children’s behavior.

How new fathers see themselves as parents, how they value their role as a parent and
how they adjust to this new role, rather than the amount of direct involvement in childcare in this period, appears to be associated with positive behavioural outcomes in children.

Opondo, Charles & Redshaw, Maggie & Savage-McGlynn, Emily & Quigley, Maria. (2016). Father involvement in early child-rearing and behavioural outcomes in their pre-adolescent children: Evidence from the ALSPAC UK birth cohort. BMJ Open. 6. 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012034.

That isn’t to say that time with your children doesn’t matter, but your feelings and attitudes toward your role are most important. When fathers feel they don’t have an impact or that their role is solely to “provide”, the children suffer because they are missing a crucial piece of their upbringing, in all areas from physical and mental to emotional and spiritual.

I argue that when you value your role as a father, your actions with your children will show that; you will be spending time with your children and your simple presence and attention to them will help them to grow and develop into well-rounded individuals.

In fact, one study by Daniel Paquette[2]https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/78723 indicated that the father-child relationship had an effect on children in their later years, making them “braver when they encounter new experiences” and helping them to have the courage and fortitude to take on life’s challenges and setbacks.

Men seem to have a tendency to excite, surprise, and momentarily destabilize children; they also tend to encourage children to take risks, while at the same time ensuring the latter’s safety and security, thus permitting children to learn to be braver in unfamiliar situations, as well as to stand up for themselves. But this dynamic can only be effective in the context of an emotional bond between father and child.

Paquette, Daniel. (2004). Theorizing the Father-Child Relationship: Mechanisms and Developmental Outcomes. Human Development – HUM DEVELOP. 47. 193-219. 10.1159/000078723.

Engaging with your children as a father can “excite, surprise, and momentarily destabilize” your children — I love that! One of the highest joys I have experienced as a father is when I take my children out on adventures and encourage them try (and do!) hard things. The first time my 8-year-old daughter built and started a fire, all by herself, and using flint and steel was a very proud-papa moment for me!

Our Story

My wife and I have some good friends whose dad passed away when they were young. They told us a few years ago that some of their fondest memories of him are these “special nights” they would have with him. On these nights, they would spend some quality one-on-one time when 100% of his attention was spent on them and their activity.

This advice came at a time when my wife was just diagnosed with cancer. We honestly did not know how much more time we would have with our own children. We shamelessly stole this idea from them and have put it into action!

My yougest son and I going bowling.

Our approach is this:

  • Weekly one-on-one time with one of our four children, rotating each week
  • Alternating weeks with each of us – my wife will go with our oldest one week, I’ll go with the second the next, she’ll go with our third, and so on
  • At the end of the rotation we’ll switch weeks – I’ll go with our oldest one week, she’ll go with second the next, and so on

This has worked so incredibly well for us over the past 6 years! We have made so many priceless memories; and since we started when our twins were still fairly young, we were able to establish the habit with them early. Now that they are teenagers it is something they still enjoy doing. Parents are still cool, right?!

Scheduling a special night into my week has made it so much easier to have regular one-on-one time with my kids. Many weeks, I look forward to these nights! But there are some weeks that I honestly don’t feel like it, whether I don’t have time or really don’t want to do the activity they chose. (You can only get gas station treats and watch a show so many times!) But, it never fails that I am happy by the end and happy to have spent time. Having it scheduled certainly makes it easier!

It has become such a loved family tradition; one where we can talk with, check on, listen to, and connect with our kids without the distractions of adulthood.

When you love your children and make time for them, they notice it. They grow into happy adults who know how much joy there is to be found simply by being around those we care about. A father’s role is not always an easy one; sometimes we have long hours at work and stressful days which take all our energy, leaving us empty at the end of the day when our kids are ready to play, and we are ready to decompress while watching a game.

What are some ways that you make one-on-one time with your kids? What are some of your favorite activities (you can find some of ours here)? Let us know in the comments!

Jonathan Haws

I am a devoted family man and enjoy going on adventures with my wife and four children. My deepest desire is to be the best husband, father, and friend I can be by inspiring a love for life, a connection with nature, and a willingness to let God prevail.

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