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Great Father Tip #6: Focus

September 23, 2011

Distracted parenting is dangerous.

You have probably read all the numbers about the dangers of “distracted driving”.  I just read that 20% of all accidents with serious injuries involve distracted drivers and driving while on a cell phone can slow our reaction time as much as a blood alcohol rate of .08.  Scary stuff that stuff we should take seriously.

You know what else is scary?  Distracted fathering.  These are men who are “present”, but not really “there” for their children.  These men go to their children’s games, but then spend the entire game on their crackberry or Iphone, answering critical texts and emails.  These men have important conversations with their teenagers, while sneaking a peak at the sports page. These men “play” with their younger children with a DVR recording playing in the background.  Finally, these men plan elaborate outings with their kids and then show up late or not at all.

I get it that we are in the age of multi-tasking, but that does not make it a great strategy for parenting.  Kids crave our attention and focus. In the 1980s, the term “quality time” was coined and then later ridiculed as a euphemism for not spending enough time with our kids.  I think “quality time” might actually be a good term for us in 2011.  Ten to fifteen minutes of focused interaction with our kids is better than an hour of distracted parenting.

You want to create heat and intimacy in your relationship with your child?  Use your time and focus it like a laser, rather than spreading out like a searchlight.  Be 100% present when you are with your kids.  Put down the cell phone, business reports, magazines and turn off the television.  Great fathers have the ability to focus their attention like a laser beam on their children.

Ultimately, what we focus on will grow.  Our children are worth that focus.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Erich Bixler permalink
    September 23, 2011 12:56 pm

    Hi Patrick,
    A focused father is so necessary, and suh a high calling to most of us. It is too easy to pass by great opportunities for relationship with our kids. As the father of 5, with the last one now a sophmore at OPRF, I look back at so many missed opportunities with the kids who have left the nest. I hurts. That’s why this past Sunday, I missed the Bears opening touchdown. My daughter was in need of her father. I was looking forward all week to watching the game on my big screen, HD with the surround sound, with snacks on the table. 2 minutes into the game she came to me. I made the decision to focus on what was important, and I shut the TV off. I was so glad I did. I comforted her distress, and the advice I gave her, she took. Later that day she resolved her problems. She came back with a high five, a hug, and a tear of Joy in her eye. I would have missed that opportunity had it not been for the regret of not focussing on my older children, and having learned the lesson of Focus the hard way.

    Dads, do not let the regret of missing out on your children’s formidable years inspire you when it’s too late. Act now, remind yourself from time to time, and make memories.

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