Relate With Your Kids Better

Daughter's Self Portrait

Daughter’s Self Portrait

Most of our interactions with our kids are a result of our doing something for them. We are the chauffeur, repairman, techie, chaperon, motivational speaker, personal groomer, chef, waiter, busboy, drill sergeant, nurse, bodyguard, lifeguard, training officer, lost-objects locator, behavioral analyst, police officer, and warden. Where’s the fun in this? It can be exhausting, right?

We have a 9-year-old daughter who’s growing up so fast. Even still, it’s difficult finding common-ground topics for conversation.  There’s only so much Pinkie Pie, Taylor Swift, Sponge Bob, and the latest things made in pink, that a guy can take. She’s quickly forming a self-identity and becoming increasingly independent.  She’s relying more on interactions with her friends.

We don’t want this time to slip into the abyss. We want to have good relationships with our children. Relying on our conversations about favorite colors or “I spy with my little eye,” are not necessarily going to bring more understanding of each other or bring us closer, but finding activities that we can both enjoy will!

The idea is so that we can both enjoy each others company and build our relationship from doing things together. (BTW, this concept works just as well in my marriage.) These activities provide us the opportunity to learn about what kind of people each of us are, and provides us many fond memories to last many years to come.

We learn to flow and work together, to play and learn from each other. It’s a great way to heal scars from one’s particular childhood and break generations of bad habits, patterns, and negative belief systems.

We recently found a new activity that we both love to do together, making pizza.  Any of you can do this. Keep reading. It began with me reading the directions and guiding us. We found a way to cooperate and work together. Now, she has taken the helm, with confidence, and except for me dealing with the oven and cutting hot slices, is all her doing. I can be there to support and assist her while she proudly takes charge and makes a delicious pie.

To make pizza, you’ll need:

A Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan

Cuisinart or Oxo pizza cutter

Rolling pin – I like the French style that’s just a basic wooden pin.

Stainless steel dredge for flour

Flour Sifter

Ladle for adding gravy to pie

Short stainless steel spatula for serving the slices

Misto olive oil sprayer – to spray the pizza pan

Oven mitts

Cheese grater

Make the Sauce:Italian Gravy  

Other Ingredients:

Papa Sal’s frozen packaged dough, dough from local pizza parlor

Or, pizza dough from scratch How to Make Pizza Dough

Mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese

Olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2. Sprinkle flour on hands and counter top surface. (We have a large butcher-block counter/wine cabinet, I built last summer.)

3. Spray a little olive oil onto the dough, just to make it easier to roll.

Homemade Butcher Block Wine Cabinet

Homemade Butcher Block Wine Cabinet

4. Roll out into a rough circle, until it’s about 15 inches wide

5. Spray the Lodge pizza pan

6. Transfer the dough to the pan.

7. At this point, I like to cook just the crust for about 5 minutes. It will ensure a golden brown crust with a crispy bottom, just like a good Brooklyn pie!

8. While dough is baking, quickly grate up the ball of mozzarella cheese on the largest setting and the parmesan cheeses on the smaller

9. Remove from oven and apply sauce with a large spoon, in a circular motion. Be sure to wear the mittens. This pan is super hot!

10. Apply the mozzarella cheese in a circular motion with your hand

11. Do the same with the parmesan

12. Place into the oven for about 16 minutes or until the cheese looks just right.

13. Remove and cut in six slices

14. Serve with the small spatula. Again, this pan gets super hot and takes a while to cool down. Be careful!

Our First Pizza!

Our First Pizza!

This pie will rival any Manhattan pie!

BTW, we just ordered the Lodge Bread pan on Amazon Prime. Next, we will make bread!

Update: OK, the bread pan arrived and we made bread. (Pic on right.) Fresh organic bread, hot out of the oven, it was better than any store-bought bread! It was a lot of fun! She really got into measuring and adding the ingredients and kneading the dough.

Our First Homemade Bread!

Our First Homemade Bread!

More things to do, in NYC, with your son or daughter:

Golf driving range at Chelsea Piers

Kick a soccer ball or play catch in any park

Kayaking (

Canoeing at the Boat House in Central Park

Hiking Central Park, the Palisades, or the Catskills Mountains

Bird Watching in Central Park

Indoor rock climbing at Chelsea Piers

Go-Kart racing and Miniature Golf in Staten Island (

Shoot pool, local pool halls

Biking in Riverside Park

Swimming at the YMCA, Jones Beach, or Oceanside

Skiing in Upstate NY

Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, Wollman Rink, or indoors at Chelsea Piers

Make Chocolate at Voila’ on 79th Street

Build something together; model airplanes, woodworking, doll house, etc.

Board Games: chess, checkers, monopoly, backgammon, scrabble, etc

Go to a local museum


Empire State Building,  Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Intrepid Museum, South Street Seaport

Street Fairs and Ethnic Fairs

Wollman Rink amusement rides (During the summer season)

Go for lunch in other parts of the city:

Greek in Astoria

Dim sum in Chinatown and Woodside

Indian/ Bengali in Jackson Heights and Murray Hill

Thai in Woodside

Italian in Little Italy or Arthur Avenue, Bronx

Soul Food in Harlem

Dominican in Washington Heights and Park Slope

Irish in Midtown, Roxbury, Rockaway Park, Gerritsen Beach

Russian in Brighton Beach

Pizza in Bay Ridge and Sheepshead Bay

Polish and Ukrainian in the East Village,

Kosher on the Upper Westside and Crown Heights

West Indian  in Jamaica, Queens

Caribbean in Wakefield, Bronx

Puerto Rican in  Spanish Harlem

Columbian in Elmhurst, Queens

See Time Out Magazine for more ideas

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James Finn

Author: James Finn

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