It’s important to keep the communication lines open with your kids and easy to let them get jammed. That jamming can be a function of both time and interest as they grow and branch out and you suddenly look at your teen and wonder when did that happen?
It’s easy to find time together with the smaller children. There aren’t so many activites and they still enjoy playing ball or games with Dad. And I’ve wondered how to carve out time with the teen; while some think that the teens don’t care to spend time with the old man, I was surprised to get a stray comment from mine about getting together. She’s involved in sports and other activities and when I’ve the opportunity to do something, she’s been gone. And vice-versa. And with the younger ones still about, it’s easier to make their moments happen.
And I remembered what the friend of a friend did with his teens. He made it a point to have regular "dates" with his kids, without any other siblings or adults around. It was their regular "time" and he scheduled it as though it were a meeting or sport practice. So when my teen was coming home from school earlier than her siblings, I took her to lunch and without the PC or TV, we had a wide-ranging conversation full of the laughter that seems to be lacking in the press of life.
The teen loved it. It gave us the chance to renew our ties and see her in yet another light as she matures. It isn’t the Candyland gameboard or the backyard, but it works just as well and it will take it’s place in the monthly calendar.