Parenting Life Hacks with Mark LaMaster
Mark LaMaster isn't just any guy. He's a dad...and a coach.....and an author right here in our own backyard. He uses all these roles in a unique way - he helps other dads develop a deeper and meaningful relationship with their kids. His advice is good as gold though so it doesn't just apply to dads, moms can scoop up this info and apply it into the family game plan.
LaMaster started realizing when his son was eight years old that he was so focused on work and money that he took being a dad for granted. He felt overwhelmed and didn't really feel like he was the dad he wanted to be. He said "I suddenly realized that my time with my kids was finite, not infinite—I only had a few years left to teach my kids the life lessons I was committed to teaching them."
He read dozens and dozens of parenting and fatherhood books and decided to write his own book, Friday Night Lights for Fathers and Sons. He designed 10 Game Days to encourage fathers to spend more intentional time with their sons. Each Game Day discusses a life lesson through fun activities and conversation.The book is more of a handbook to help leads dad through each Game Day.
LaMaster understands that parenting is hard. He adds "It’s also frustrating, discouraging, and often stressful. But, on the other hand, it is the most rewarding, most fulfilling, and most exciting part of my life! I wouldn’t trade it for the world."
His advice to parents is to truly "get to know" your kids. Know who their friends are, what excites them, what scares them, what they worry about, and what they are thinking about. This only happens through conversation. Conversation only happens when you spend intentional, one-on-one time with them.
One of the most transformative stories he's seen in his line of work helping dads was when one of the dads he coached told me a story of a Game Day experience he had with his son. It was during Game Day 1, which discusses character and integrity. This particular Game Day activity uses any type of target activity, such as laser tag, darts, bowling, or target practice. During the Post Game Press Conference portion of the Game Day, the dad complimented his son for shooting better than himself.
As he was complimenting his son, he realized for the first time that, while growing up, his own dad only complimented him once! He shared how powerful his dad’s compliment was for him. Almost immediately after having this memory, he had an “Aha” moment! If his dad’s single compliment made an impact on his life, how much more impact could he have in complimenting his own son multiple times? Since then, his relationship with his son has truly transformed. Not because of the book. Not because of target practice. But rather, because he took action and decided to spend intentional, one-on-one time with his son.
LaMaster is on to something. A study released in 2015 from the Journal of Marriage and Family confirms that parents spending time with their children encourages positive outcomes. LaMaster is giving KROC folks a FREE Game Day 1 Checklist to get you started.
Here are some other resources you can use to gather ideas you can do with your kids: