5 Excellent Father-Son Bonding Activities
To have a happy family, parents need to bond with their children. Sometimes it seems as though fathers and sons have massive obstacles to overcome to develop a strong bond, though.
We tend to accept the idea that mothers are the nurturers, and fathers are the breadwinners. As such, fathers might find it challenging to learn how to bond with their children, particularly their sons. Fortunately, there are ways to do it that are fun, have age-appropriate levels to them, and are overall excellent bonding activities. You just need to know what they are.
The Importance of Bonding with Your Son
First off, why do you, as a father, need a strong bond with your son? Boys tend to model themselves after their fathers. A distant father who barely knows his son is likely to raise a son who doesn’t know how to bond appropriately with his own children (and possibly others as well).
Boys look to their fathers for approval more than anyone else, too. When a father is present, caring, respectful, and more, his son will grow up with those same values. However, a boy may have considerable trouble with these things if he doesn’t have a strong bond with his father.
Why? Because he has nothing to emulate or study. He doesn’t know his dad, so unless he’s got another good male role model, he doesn’t have someone from whom to learn these things.
How Fathers Bond with Their Sons
How do fathers bond with their sons, though? Fathers connect with all their children differently than mothers do, and there are many reasons for this. The bottom line, though, is that there are three significant ways all parents bond with their children that you should know and understand.
Communication is the bedrock of any solid relationship, and it’s important to remember that it doesn’t just involve talking, but also involves listening.
As a father, you should want your son to feel comfortable coming to you with anything. We adults often forget how hard childhood is because adulthood’s problems make us long for what we view as the halcyon days of being a kid.
Even so, childhood is hard. One of the best ways that fathers bond with their sons is to listen to them and show interest in their lives without judgment. Don’t just ask how school was; listen to what he says. Does he have homework he doesn’t understand? Did he fail a test? Is there a bully making his school days miserable? You want him to feel comfortable answering that question with more than “Fine” or, “It was okay.”
That’s true with other things, too. Say he plays on a football team, and he’s not enjoying it. Your son needs to feel comfortable telling you that, and you need to feel comfortable hearing it, meaning you need to refrain from criticizing him for feeling that way. Ask him if there’s something else he enjoys or would like to try, and see what you can do about that.
In other words, building solid lines of communication between the two of you is one of the best ways to bond with your son. And because you’re a man, you want him to feel comfortable talking to you when he’s feeling weak and vulnerable. This way, you’ll help him develop healthy emotional attitudes.
Communication might be the bedrock of a good relationship, but it’s not everything. As we mentioned above, being present in your son’s life is necessary, too. Communication doesn’t work very well when you’re not spending time with him.
Spending time together doesn’t mean merely fitting a trip to the park into your busy schedule. Help him with his homework. Invite him to sit with you while you relax in the evening after work just to chat. If your workplace has father-son days, make a point of bringing him in with you so he can see what you do all day.
Work and Play
Work doesn’t necessarily mean taking your son to work with you. You can invite him to help you with projects around the house. Even having your very young son help you change lightbulbs can set the two of you on a path towards a specific bonding activity that will have real-world results when he grows up.
Things like building a treehouse are good ways to bond with your son while teaching him some handy skills, too. Buying him child-sized tools like wrenches and hammers and yard implements like rakes and shovels are great ways to work and play while teaching him some skills he needs.
However, you don’t have to stick to things that are traditionally male-oriented. If you can cook and you enjoy it, invite your son to help you in the kitchen. Maybe you can have him measure ingredients for you. For all you know, the two of you will get into a food fight while cooking and have some laughs. Then the two of you can clean up together, too.
Top 5 Father and Son Bonding Activities
We talked about general ideas for father-son bonding activities, like projects, take-your-son-to-work day, and other things. Those are general ideas, though. What are some specific activities that are great for father-son bonding?
You can take your son to sporting events that you enjoy and understand. Explain the rules to him. Point out strategies that each team or individual uses. Help him understand what’s going on.
For instance, you can take him to a rock-climbing gym, and the two of you can climb walls together. Go hiking and enjoy nature together. If you live near water, buy a kayak or canoe and take him out on the water, where you can teach him water safety and where it’s just the two of you enjoying being together.
Teach him how to ride a bike, and ride around the neighborhood with him. When he’s ready for longer rides, go with him.
There are many ways to enjoy sports with your son. Some of them involve just watching, while others are far more interactive. A good mix of both can help you bond in ways you might not have imagined.
2. Watch and Discuss Movies
Sure, going to the movies is fun, as is watching them at home. However, a great way to use movies as a bonding activity is to create a tradition of watching movies in a specific way. For instance, you can create a tradition of watching one film from a series or universe each Saturday evening.
Afterward, you can discuss what you enjoyed about what you watched, but you can also discuss how each film connects to others. You help your son understand storytelling and story arcs, and he might give you some insight you never had before.
3. Tackle Long-Term Projects
Tackling some of these things with your son not only helps teach him necessary life and academic skills, but also helps build the bond between you two because you’re working on something together that’s going to take quite some time.
Keep in mind that he may never grow to enjoy the same things you work on together, and that’s okay. However, in addition to teaching him tangible skills, you also teach him “soft skills,” like cooperation, teamwork, time management, and leadership.
Also, the two of you can talk about other things while you’re working together. Tackling projects like this are great opportunities for communication between the two of you.
4. Take a Class Together
Maybe you want to learn how to grow some of your own food because you’re worried about the future, or you just enjoy gardening and want to expand your horizons. Take a gardening class with your son, and teach him the value of growing your own food. You can also use that opportunity to teach him how to make some of the best food ever with fresh herbs and spices.
Maybe you’ve noticed your son has taken a keen interest in something you’re working on around the house that requires lots of tools. Sign up for a class that teaches how to use power tools properly. You never know, the two of you might learn new things together.
5. Check out Shows and Exhibitions
Museums, art shows, car shows, boat shows, and even state and county fairs all provide opportunities for you and your son to spend time together.
Museums often have temporary exhibits that are interesting and educational. Check out the exhibits your local museum has right now. Do they have a special exhibition on Vikings? Maybe ancient Egypt or the dinosaurs? Your son might enjoy going to see it with you. Make it a father-son outing and learn some history together.
Even if you don’t live in a city that hosts a major car show, like Detroit or Chicago, you can probably find one near you at some point. Even better, see if you can find out where antique car shows are. Owners of classic cars often put together small shows in the parking lots of local businesses or car dealerships. If you and your son are into cars, try and find one of these.
Is your family into taking long road trips instead of flying everywhere? Go to an RV show and check out the types of RVs that might work best for your family. Your son can give you his perspective, which translates to valuable input you may not otherwise get.
As a father, you need to develop a good bond with your children, including your son. Whether you realize it or not, your son looks up to you and uses you as a model for what kind of person he should be.
Without a good bond, not only will you miss him later in life, but your son may grow up being distant with his own kids. If you’re looking for activities to help you build a good, strong bond with your son, check some of these out. And above all, keep lines of communication non-judgmental and completely open. That way, not only do you enjoy each other’s company, but you also create a strong foundation on which to build your relationship.