September 9-11, 2016.  Treasure Island Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada.  2 Days.  21 guys.  Our First DMD (Dads Married to Doctors) Retreat.  Dads only, no spouses, no kids.  And it was on this retreat that I learned how to be a better parent.  Here are the 3 things Vegas taught me about parenting…

1 – Quality Time vs Quantity Time

There were times when I would sit at a Blackjack Table for 30 minutes watching the ebb and flow of my cash. Up $20, then down $40, up $30, down $50. Quantity Time. Other times, I would go to a slot machine and 30 seconds later, walk away with a winning voucher to cash out.  Quality Time.

Winning in VegasAs I think about our kids, all they really need and want is our time. As with gambling, there is no right or wrong strategy, but choosing the best strategy for the present situation. Our kids want and need both quality time and quantity time.

2 – Be fully engaged – Watching the game vs Being in the game

So I’m spending quantity time with my girls… We’re in the same room together but they’re playing on their tablets while I’m zoned out on my device.

In Vegas, I had a good time standing back from the Blackjack Table and watching the game happen in front of me. I was noticing winning odds, betting strategies and just enjoying being in the environment.  Oftentimes, the environment would distract me and I missed some of the action on the table.  What did the dealer pull?  Why did that guy bust? The odds were in his favor. But the moment I sat down at the table and placed my bet, I was no longer a spectator, I was fully engaged!

The Final Table at our DMD Poker Tournament
The Final Table at our DMD Poker Tournament

Our kids want us around and want us to watch them. I hear 50 times a day, “daddy, watch this.” My daughter says that because I’m in the room, but I’m not fully engaged in the moment. When I’m down on the floor playing dolly dress up with her, she doesn’t have to say, “daddy watch,” because she knows I’m engaged and it’s a better experience for both of us.

3 – You’re a WINNER!  Celebrate the WINS, both big and small.

Everyone loves the lights, sounds, and glitz of Vegas. It becomes even better when those lights and sounds are flashing and buzzing because YOU just hit the JACKPOT on your last $20 spin!  Vegas has perfected the art of celebrating your wins.  They have created an environment where you know you’re playing a game with the odds stacked against you. You know going in that you will lose, A LOT, but boy when you win… even if it’s only a few cents or dollars, the machine lights up and celebrates your victory!

Our kids need to know in this game called life, the odds won’t always seem to be in their favor. There will definitely be losses, some big and some small. We have to teach them to stay strong, keep the faith, and to keep playing!  And when they win, we need to be there to make it the best experience ever.  We need to teach our kids to take calculated risks, encourage and even reward them to try and fail, and then really celebrate when they do win!

Losing is not the opposite of winning… Quitting is!

Losing is part of the game. With the proper attitude and guidance, we can help our kids win big in life by being their biggest and loudest cheerleader!

PRO TIP – Celebrate the little wins!

I don’t celebrate the little wins enough. I’m real quick to point out my kids’ mistakes and lapses in judgment. Instead, I need to look for the little wins, the good decision, the use of manners, sharing without being prompted, cleaning up when they’re done instead of leaving a mess.  Praise the little wins and they will keep making better and better choices!

Racing Go Karts in Vegas!
Racing Go Karts in Vegas!

So that’s what Vegas taught me about parenting.  Have you had a parenting revelation on a trip or as you’ve been living life?  Share it with me in the comments below.  Let’s parent better together!

 – Curtis