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Tips for Dads – Spending Time with Your Preteen

For many dads, spending time with a preteen is a bit of a challenge. Preteens have different “requirements,” so to speak, and different wants and needs than younger kids. Dads may feel like their preteen children are drifting away from them, but their emerging independence is actually a good thing. It doesn’t mean they don’t want and need you to spend time with them.

For preteens – that is, children aged approximately 9 to 12 – there are some special times you can spend together. Here are some tips for dads who are looking for ways to spend time with their preteens.


Here are some fun ideas for dads and preteen boys.

* Make a meal for Mom – Get together with your son and plan a meal for his mom (or step-mom, aunt, grandmother, or other woman who means a lot to you both). This helps teach your son how to be helpful and do things for the women in his life (his future wife will thank you!). It also is a fun bonding activity.

Breakfast is a good place to start. Breakfast foods tend to be forgiving and leave room for creativity (like Belgian waffles with personalized toppings). You and your son can plan the whole meal, from shopping list to serving, and do all the steps together.

* Fishing – Old-fashioned but fun, fishing with Dad can provide a lifetime of memories. You don’t necessarily have to have any elaborate equipment or a fancy boat; many local parks and forests allow fishing in their creeks, ponds, lakes, and so forth.

* Get together with other dads – See if you can get together with your son’s friend’s dads, and plan a group outing. You can go hiking or biking, or just go to a movie together. You could even just go out to a meal together. The point is, getting with other dads can help you with other ideas for get-togethers and your son will get to spend time with you and his friends.

* Camping – Taking your son camping can be as elaborate as a weekend overnight in an RV or as simple as a day in the forest with a campfire lunch. Camping is something that preteen boys tend to really enjoy.


Dads may feel like they don’t relate to their daughters much as they hit the preteen years. But your little girl still needs you and wants to spend time with you, so try some of these ideas.

* Out for a meal – Taking your daughter to a restaurant is a simple activity that can mean a lot to a young girl. You might make it a regular thing, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner or just a coffee break in the mid-afternoon.

* Shopping – Don’t let the concept of shopping scare you away from spending this precious time with your daughter. Make it a shopping trip for a specific item, like a birthday present for a friend, family member, or sibling. Or maybe take her shopping for a Mother’s Day gift. If you like, you might buy her a little piece of jewelry or something similar to remember your shopping trip.

* Entertainment – Take your daughter to a movie, or read a book with her over the summer. Talk about what you think of the movie or book. It will become something you both know about, and it gives you a “door” into your daughter’s world.