• Trent Hess

Dad Tips!

It is extremely important for children to have a good Dad involved in their lives. I think we can all agree on this. We can hopefully agree as well on the big picture of what being a “good Dad” means; being interested and involved in kid’s lives, setting a good example, loving the child’s Mother, providing for them, etc.

But what does it mean in very specific, practical terms? That’s what this Blog is focused on.

I want to tell you about some things that I do in an attempt to be a “good Dad”. These are simply three things that I personally do with my children that I’ve found to be valuable. Maybe you’ll find these helpful.

1.) Grocery Store Mondays

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point in our marriage I started doing the grocery shopping.

Emily doesn’t enjoy grocery shopping and isn’t that great at doing it economically, so I just started to do it. She still cooks the meals, but I buy the food. This arrangement has actually worked out very well for us both.

As our children got a bit older I began a tradition of taking one of them along with me to the grocery store each week. This is something that I’ve really grown to enjoy, and it provides me with 1-on-1 time with my girls on a regular basis. This is important, because of course when you have five children 1-on-1 time is a scarce commodity. I’m not going to pretend that each week I have deep, heart-to-heart talks with my daughter at the grocery store, but I do get a chance to ask them about their day, and to simply spend some time with them.

Ruth and Carrie enjoying free cheese on their first trip with me to grocery store

Grocery Store Mondays also have the side-benefit of teaching practical skills to my children. They start to understand how to grocery shop, what ingredients are needed for meals, how much things cost, how to compare prices, look for sales, and read nutritional labels.

2.) Birthday Day

Every year I do something special with each daughter on their Birthday (or at least close to their Birthday). We go out for lunch, and do something fun, but relatively simple. Examples include:

-Going to a museum


-Visiting a pet store (which generally means buying a small fish)

-Visiting the Pequea Wind Caves (a rite of passage when you turn six)


Canoeing with Abbey

Last year Anne turned 10, so we did something more extravagant and the two of us went for a horseback trail ride.

Beautiful Fall day for horseback riding with Anne!

These Birthday outings create great memories, and also create fun conversations in our house throughout the year as the kids discuss what they are going to do with Dad on their next Birthday.

Me and Maggie before entering the Wind Caves!

3.) Praying in the morning

On most days I leave for work before anyone else in the house is awake. There are times however when one or more of the girls wake up and come downstairs before I leave. When that’s the case, I always make it a point to pray with them before I leave for work. These prayers aren’t extravagant.

Generally, I am praying that school will go well, that it will be a joyful day for them, that they can be a good sister and obedient to their Mom that day, and that they will be safe.

I think this tradition started way back when our kids were babies and would wake up very early, which meant that Emily would have to get up with them while I got ready for work. We started to realize that on days I didn’t pray with Emily before I left, she usually had a rough day. This got me started on making it a point to pray with her before I went to work, and this has carried over to praying for my daughters. I would pray with Emily as well, but she is never awake when I leave. (Don’t tell her I said that!! But it’s true….)

The sweetest thing is when my four-year-old is awake and sees me start to put my shoes on as I get ready to leave, she will say “Daddy, will you pray with me?”. Of course, I will!

These are just three things that I’ve found are workable and help create a strong bond with my children.

What works for you?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

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