Are You Task Driven or Connection Driven With Your Kids?

Adam Hillis
4 min readJun 17, 2018
Image from Pixabay

As a department admin for years, and now an admin to an executive, much of my life is getting things done for other people. It’s no different at home where I have 3 little ones that are under the age of 6. There is a task to complete for someone almost any moment of the day.

When it comes to parenting though, I’m finding how that can be a hindrance to the relationship I have with my kids. A dad who has his head down always doing things for the family isn’t necessarily an involved dad.

When I’m making food, folding laundry, washing dishes, hitting the grocery story, or scrubbing smoothie off the walls I’m more of a maid. Maybe a nanny at best. But a focus on cranking out tasks does not necessarily make me “Dad.”

The Task Driven Breakfast

This is a real scenario from a Saturday morning at our house:

I’m getting out eggs, bacon, pancake mix, butter, syrup, mixing bowl, skillet and griddle. Abel, our 4-year-old, sees me and says, “Dad! I want to help make breakfast!

It’s 10am. Since it’s Saturday we’ve kinda just lazed around the house, watched a little TV, built a few houses and castles with the blocks, and set up the Hot Wheels cars all around them.

Being that it’s a little later in the day I’m hungry, the kids are hungry, and my wife is hungry. Everyone is starting to get a little hangry.

My natural reaction is, “No buddy, not today. Dad is going to just do breakfast real quick so we can eat.” (I’m still not sure why, but I usually talked to my kids in third person…)

So Abel grabs a chair and sets in front of the stove, climbs up, and asks, “Can I stir the pancakes?”

“Dude… (I also call my kids “dude”) I said, ‘No.’ I just want to get this done. Let Dad cook super fast. Then we can eat! Aren’t you hungry?”

I lift him off the chair, move him to one arm, lift the chair with my free hand, carry both out of the kitchen, set them down, and head back to work.

The Connection Driven Breakfast

Also a real scenario from a Saturday morning at our house:

I’m getting out eggs, bacon, pancake mix, butter, syrup, mixing bowl, skillet and griddle. Abel, our 4-year-old, sees me and says, “Dad! I want to help make breakfast!

“OK Buddy!” I respond. Grabbing a chair I place it next to the counter in front of the mixing bowl, and set Abel standing on the chair.

Asher jumps in the middle of us. “Can I help too?!”

“Sure!” I snag another chair and get him set up next to Abel.

I crack the eggs into the bowl. Asher pours in the melted butter and water, Abel does the pancake mix after I measure. Each of them takes turn mixing. Then they take turns beating the eggs.

Once we have our batter they get to pour a batch onto the griddle while I steady their hand. They’re doing the work and I’m simply insuring I don’t have an entire bowl of raw pancakes dumped onto gas burners.

They each flip their batch of pancakes and transfer from the griddle to the plate. Dad’s hand guides the spatula like it did the mixing bowl.

The Difference

Both of these stories got pancakes made and put on the table.

One took about 20 minutes. The other took a little more than 40 minutes.

Those extra 20 minutes, and maybe a little extra clean up, created a memory. It bonded me with my boys, and was the highlight of their day. Maybe their week.

I often gloss over these opportunities for the sake of speed and efficiency. The only thing I’m concerned about is getting food out of the kitchen and in my family’s bellies. But 20 minutes is practically nothing. It is 1.39% of the day. A tiny bit more time, and some fatherly patience created a connection with my children and me.


Two of my most vivid memories as a kid involve cooking.

We would often make grilled cheese and tomato soup on Sunday evenings, and I can recall my dad teaching me how to assemble, cook, and flip my sandwich.

The other is camping. We made “hobo burgers,” which is a hamburger patty, onions, and sliced potatoes, salt and peppered, all wrapped in tinfoil and cooked over the campfire.

I often drove my parents nuts being an ADHD kid. It’s an interesting thing that these memories I have as a young boy feeling loved and connected to my dad involve him being patient with me to teach me a skill.

My dad could have quickly made grilled cheese, or did all the work for the hobo burgers. I doubt an ADHD 8-year-old handling raw meat near a large open flame in the middle of the forest was an easy thing manage.

But my dad took the time and patience to connect with me over something as simple as making food. Those are the things I look back on nearly 30 years later when I’m with my own children.

I hope my boys will say the same when they are grown. I want them to remember the dad who connected with them when he had the chance, and not a dad who just cared about getting things done.

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Adam Hillis

Crafting educational email courses for coach/creators || Coaching men to connect w/ their wife & kids, and themselves || I juggle marriage, kids, and words