Thoughtful Parenting: Be an All Pro Dad | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: Be an All Pro Dad

Susan Phillips/For Steamboat Today

To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E. — Anonymous.

Spending quality time with your children tells them they are valued, leads to more closeness, creates special memories, develops better trust and communication and results in an overall stronger lifetime relationship between you and your child.

Also, very importantly, research shows that children with two involved parents, whether married or not, are more successful socially, emotionally. Academically and have reduced rates of juvenile delinquency. Children need to spend quality time with both parents, but it also can be a special bonding time when each parent spends time with their children individually.

Quality time is more than performing the everyday tasks of parenting, such as preparing meals, getting the children off to school, running them to after-school activities and encouraging them to brush their teeth and complete their chores. Though Routt County offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreational time together, it is important to also engage in activities that allow conversation and connection without distractions.

It is with this in mind that Brian Simmons, local resident and father of four, brought All Pro Dad to Steamboat Springs last school year and has recently partnered with the Fatherhood Program of Routt County.

All Pro Dads is a national program that started in 1997 and is designed to help promote dads' involvement in their kids' lives. Its co-founder and national spokesperson is former NFL coach Tony Dungy. It is a partner program of the National PTA

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Simmons explains that he and his children attended All Pro Dad breakfasts in Nashville, Tennessee, before moving to Steamboat Springs. While he loved the positive connection with his kids and other dads, it was really his kids who inspired him to bring the program to Steamboat Springs.

"My kids asked me to start it here, and that's all it took," he said. "They absolutely love it and bounce out of bed for every APD breakfast."

The program consists of a one-hour monthly breakfast held before school. The general format for each breakfast involves a chance for everyone to eat. Then dads and their kids take a few minutes to reflect on what they appreciate about each other, followed by discussion of a wide range of monthly topics. There is also a raffle for door prizes. To quote one Steamboat Springs' dad, "It's a great reason to get up early and have a positive experience with your son and/or daughter."

A few examples of monthly topics include: "Being Unique," "When We Mess Up" and "Being Healthy." Though the program content varies somewhat across the country, the Steamboat Springs chapter does not promote religion in any way. The following principles are supported by the program.

■ Love your wife.

■ Spend time with your kids.

■ Be a role model.

■ Understand and enjoy your children.

■ Show affection.

■ Secure your family's financial future.

■ Eat together as a family.

■ Discipline with a gentle spirit.

■ Realize you are a father forever.

Equally important, though not included in the above list: Research shows it is crucial to the well-being of children that parents treat each other with respect and strive to co-parent as harmoniously as possible, whether living together or not.

All Pro Dad's Day breakfasts take place at 7:15 a.m. on the third Friday of each month during the school year. They are held in rented space at the Steamboat Springs Middle School, but are not sponsored by the school. Fathers with kids of all ages are welcome. For more information, contact Brian Simmons at 615-400-1125 or email allprodad.briansim

mons@gmail.com. Readers may also call the Fatherhood Program of Routt County at 970-870-5289 or email sphil

lips@co.routt.co.us

Susan Phillips is the coordinator for the Fatherhood Program of Routt County. She can be reached at 970-870-5289 or sphillips@co.routt.co.us