You May Be A Magical Dad If…

Whether you’re a married or single dad, or have a child age 5 or 35, we all recognize the importance a father can have on a child’s life. Beyond instilling core values, a father also has the opportunity to inspire an appreciation of life. The value of spending time with those closest to you is learned through words, but more importantly through action. Some of a father’s best “work” can be sharing life’s grand and minor moments. By participating in a child’s enjoyment of life, a father can ensure this lesson will be handed down to the next generation.

And we can hopefully also agree that bonding with your children is a struggle, which becomes more daunting every day. In that constant quest for social and professional improvement, finding time to connect with your child is an undeniable challenge. Part escape artist, part juggler, part tight rope walker, a father still finds time to spend those precious moments that are indelible in both their memories.

Growing up I went to Walt Disney World “only” three times, and can remember my first trip at age 7 vividly. I even remember jumping around on the airport lounge seats, when I learned that we weren’t there to meet family, but rather to go to Disney World. And later when my parents divorced, those moments at “The World” became some of my most cherished memories.

With my son, I have taken the opportunity to share those childhood memories with him, and more importantly develop ones of our own. WDW has been a favorite destination–alright the only vacation spot–since his birth five years ago. Over the years though, I grew tired of explaining or, if being honest, defending my urge (some may say obsession, but let’s dispense with labels for this article) to go to “The World.” You know the looks: a squinty stare, an eye roll, and the half hearted nods of the head feigning approval–and these are the looks you get from your own family. Not to mention the looks from co-workers when they ask, “Where are you going on vacation?” and you sheepishly reply “Walt Disney World” AGAIN. It’s enough to make one consider answering with “Pango Pango” or “Timbuktu” or anywhere else on the planet.

But recently, a different response sprang to mind. How about acknowledging with pride your trip back to the “House of Mouse?” Rather than shying away from the wild looks from co-workers, embrace your Orlando quasi-citizenship.

And why shouldn’t you? Walt Disney World is more than a destination, or another theme park. It’s an emotional homecoming. It’s your time to re-kindle your childhood memories and, better yet, share them with your children. There are few places where generations can share a common emotion past. And there are even fewer places where you can act like child without being ridiculed or committed. The memories and freedom The World provides allows long lasting bonds to form, uniting the generations.

A Walt Disney World vacation lets kids of all ages be kids together. Dads who are willing to turn off their Blackberries, cell phones and pagers, to spend quality time with their children teach them that childhood is a special time to treasure. By sharing their childhood memories and emotionally connecting with their children they allow new memories to take root. This should be celebrated! Not mocked or scorned by those rolling their eyes at your vacation destination.

The connections developed in the sanctuary that is Walt Disney World are Magical, and the men who are willing to invest and share those moments with their children are “Magical Dads.” Magical Dads seek more than a vacation destination, more than a place to unwind and relax, but rather a place where being a kid seems natural and where your child’s smile is only matched by your own, as you laughingly struggle to keep pace.

The places where you can experience that connection with your kids are few, and the Dads who seek more than a “trip away” should be recognized, and praised.

So are you a Magical Dad? You may be a Magical Dad if you:

* Have ever dug out old pictures and videos of your childhood trips to Disney World, to relive the memories–alone or with your kids.

* Find yourself suggesting Disney movies to watch in the weeks or months before your next trip, and enjoy watching them as much as your kids do.

* Almost trip or walk into a trash can upon entering the Magic Kingdom because you’re so engrossed in your child’s look of amazement walking down Main Street, USA.

* Get goose bumps or well up (in a manly way of course) watching your child’s first parade (and, if you’re like me, “get something in your eye” at the first parade of each Disney trip).

* Watch your child’s face during the fireworks display and count how many times they say “wow” or their mouths fall open in amazement.

* Look forward to wearing your Mickey ears, with the word DAD proudly displayed.

* Look forward to Father’s Day for the new Disney Dad “swag” you may get, or collect Disney Father’s Day pins.

* Have been giddy at the thought of introducing your offspring to your favorite attractions. Extra points if this occurred before or immediately after their birth.

* Thanked your own dad for bringing you to Walt Disney World or Disneyland as a child.

* Secretly plan your next trip with your 5 year old, and use him to try and convince your wife to return immediately. (Maybe this one is more a personal admission, rather than a shared Magical Dad ploy)

If you answered ‘yes’ to more than half of these questions, you’re well on your way to being a Magical Dad. For the rest of you, if you would like suggestions on future bonding ideas that may strengthen the bond with your kids (using a lot of Disney glue), please keep an eye out for future Magical Dads articles. And meanwhile, I invite you to begin celebrating your Magical moments by sharing them on the forums.

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