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“Only Interested People are Interesting” ~ Jeff Cooper

Ever meet a person who is so completely wrapped up in their profession or obsession that finding common ground seems impossible? Contrast that experience with a conversation with a person who seems to have been everywhere and done everything. The chat is usually lively and engaging. The difference? Interest. The second person is interested in things outside of themselves.

As a father I feel it is my job to make sure my child spends quality unplugged time in order to enjoy the world outside the confines of manufactured reality. To that end, I wanted to share some ideas on how new fathers can develop and maintain “interested” kids.

Reading aloud helps the child learn to process and construct language. For the first 18 months the subject isn’t important. The sound of the voice and bright pictures do most of the work. As the child grows choose books on a wide variety of topics. Let the child pick the books based on their interests. Introduce books you liked when you were a kid.

Mix the fiction in with the facts, and be open to answering questions on the subject.
Deep expertise on a given topic isn’t necessary. Just provide simple answers, and be prepared for the zingers kids will slip in unexpectedly. Sometimes these conversations can be very wide-ranging, and this simple exchange builds bonds, and opens doors, that will allow you to influence your child in later years.

When my child was little we had bedtime stories every night. As she got older, I chose books that were much more grown up. These books triggered many long discussions. Such discussions are teachable moments because I am able to share my opinion on the topic at a time when the child is open to that message.

One of the favorite book series we enjoyed was the “Little House” set by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As we read the books we talked about how people lived before electricity. “Little House” has been followed by other books on history and supplemented with visits to museums of various countries and cultures.

Several years ago, Heritage made a foray into Russian Art, and since my Mrs. is from St. Petersburg, Russia, we attended the lot viewing with our daughter intending to let her see all of the great art and wonderful jewelry that once belonged to various members of the Russian aristocracy. As we entered the Slocum office, our daughter says “Awesome!” and immediately goes straight past all that glitters, and stops at the mastodon skull that was consigned to a future Natural History sale.

The next book we read was on Ice Age critters.

Let the child see you enjoying a book. Kids take most of their cues from their parents. If the parents spend their time in front of the computer or TV that is the pattern they will follow.