The bond between the father and his son is a rare treasure. The value is beyond gold. Most sons missed this unparalleled experience. Those who experienced it hold amazing testimonies of how the experience shaped their lives but those who were not privileged with the experience, are left with an undefined gap deep within their souls. This gap is not only due to absent fathers but some present fathers are clueless on how to connect with their sons
In this article, I intend to share light on plenty of bonding ideas ensuring that there is no excuse whatsoever for fathers not to bond with their sons. I won’t go any further without being straight about this crucial truth, bonding does not happen by osmosis, it takes an intentional father to create time and set the tone for the relationship.
1. Watch–and discuss–movies and documentaries.
Movies are an old-time bonding game plan. They work well for couples and friends. Movie nights play a very important role in most relationships. They can still perform the same magic of connection between the father and the son. Pull a big bowl of popcorns and some drinks, dim the lights, close the door, maybe put a father and son no interruption note, find comfortable positions and enjoy a movie or documentary of choice with each other. To extract value from what you are watching, have a fun and empowering conversation afterward. This is the best time to influence his interpretations and perceptions about the world and life.
2. Be vulnerable with each other.
It takes courage to be vulnerable, but vulnerability breeds deep connection. So if the father aims for a deep connection with the son, vulnerability is not an option. In an age-appropriate way be vulnerable with your son. Fathers should not always put on a superhero mask. They should be willing to express their desirable and undesirable feelings with their kids. Talk about your wins and losses, about your mistakes and the consequences that came with such mistakes. Share a tear and allow him to comfort you.
This kind of vulnerability will create a safe and secure space for the son to be vulnerable. This is a kind of environment that will help the boy to let his guard down and be open with the father even during the worst times of his life. Every loving father desires this but not all fathers are willing to model vulnerability. Vulnerability will sure enhance connection and it will remain one of the most crucial life lessons a father can teach his son.
3. Read together.
Read-aloud sessions with kids have always been left to mommies.
Few sessions with daddy is not a bad idea at all. There is no prescription on how to set up or run these sessions. The sessions will be determined by the age and the reading abilities of the child. As children grow to tweens and teens age, you can decide on common reads. Choose a book, read it together or separately and create time to discuss the lessons and juicy details from the book. Book choices can be determined by the interests of the child and the lessons the father wants to drive home.
4. Build, create, fix, or learn something new together.
I recommend getting clues about what to work on from the boy’s interests. There are plenty of ideas that can be carried out on a low budget if with any budget at all. Build with card boxes, papers, explore DIY Crafts on YouTube and have fun.
Take a short online course together.
Learn a new language together. Imagine moments where, while within a group of people you can throw in lines that are only understood by dad & Son. I am certain this will be a proud dad and son moments.
Learn a musical instrument together. You can find lessons online or find someone to teach you, it doesn’t matter, what truly matters is that I am doing it with Dad (Proud son moments)
5. Take walks or drives together.
Father and son no agenda walks or drives are beautiful. The conversations are relaxed, the guards are down, the air is different, there are no rules nor protocols, there is minimal eye contact just the right atmosphere to discuss what you both are not comfortable discussing at home with the girls or on a face to face formal meeting.
Father and son journals can be kept as monuments of their relationship. It is something the son can pass to his sons or at least refer to, during his journey as a father.
Journal about all things, the good the bad and the ugly. Let the journal and its pen be kept in a place where it will be easily accessible by both parties and agree on how to use it.
The truth is there are days when we cannot put our thoughts into speech but can put them into text. The father and the son can both pour their hearts out on paper during such days. This can just be the beginning of a great conversation that can be continued during the walks, drives or dates.
7. Help with school work.
Schoolwork can be time-consuming both in and outside the schoolyard. It can leave very limited time for family connections but as the saying goes ‘ If you can’t beat them join them’ Instead of waiting for the child to finish their homework so that you both can watch a movie or whatever the plan is, get involved in his schoolwork , help him, be interested and be present.
This can be an expression of the value you put on his schoolwork & development. It can also be an encouragement that will results in improved grades.
8. Reserve time for father and son dates.
Dates are perceived as special moments. They have a way of communicating love and value, which applies to familial love as much as romantic love. They tell the next person that you are worthy of my time and in most cases my money.
Dates are about leaving everything behind just to focus on this one particular person. They can vary from restaurants, outings, to walks in the park, to a movie night at home or the cinema, to a sporting event, to a camp adventure or a day out fishing. Trying different things will add the necessary spice that you both can look forward to.
9. Share your personal stories.
Stories are powerful. Share personal stories, other people’s stories or stories you read about. Nothing captures kid’s attention than a well-narrated story. Plan it if you have to. Tell it in such a way that it will engage his senses and imagination.
This is an opportunity to develop storytelling skills, the skill that will benefit you and him beyond this relationship.
10. Take photos together.
Leave no memory uncaptured, take a lot of pictures together. Pictures are great memory prompts. I am certain you sat down at one point in your life and went through an old album, and such moments are usually accompanied by smiles.
11. Do chores together.
Think of a day when you’ll just wake up and announce to everybody in the house, relax, put your legs up enjoy the day, the cleaning and the cooking are on us today. It will not only give others a needed break but it will deepen the bond between daddy and the son.
You can consider gardening, plumbing, and fixing things together. This provides the son with an on-job learning, with this kind of shadowing experience he will not struggle with his identity as a man.
12. Play together.
Play is known to be the foundation of self-expression. The best way to know and connect with any child is not to sit around a round table with them but it is to play with them. Play happens to be their primary language. Play video games, play chess, play Lego, play board games, play rough and tumble games, build a ford, blindfold each other, pull safe pranks, find more games and continue to speak the language he understands best – PLAY.
13. Affirm each other.
Affirmations are one of the love languages, whether we acknowledge it or not we all have a desire to be affirmed. Nothing turns on the son’s confidence than the father’s affirmation. Fathers are seen as a standard and kids usually want to know that they are meeting that standard. The best way to go about this, is words of affirmations.
Tell him, I believe in you, I’m proud of you, you are special, you are my blessing, I’m privileged to be your father, your future is bright and more.
Observe what he is good at and make sure he never hears the end of it. Catch him doing something good when he least expected you to be watching and blow a trumpet about it. Ooze with gratitude towards him.
14. Give nicknames to each other.
There is just something special about calling me with the name that fully expresses how you feel and think of me. Much thought should not be given to what is the best appropriate name, such names naturally flows from the heart. Keep connecting it will soon flow and you will know when it’s the right name.
15. Design–and wear–a father and son T-shirt.
It’s time for some creativity. Seal the bond, design a T-shirt that tells the world what your relationship stands for, or how you value this relationship.
This public expression of love and togetherness will surely seal the deal of love, acceptance, and belonging.
In the wise words of Ziad K Abdelnour:
A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.
Material possessions can never replace the deep need and desire of a son to connect with his father. It is unfortunate that most fathers limit their value and impact within the boundaries of what they can offer materially.
This post is republished on “A Parent Is Born,” a Good Men Project publication on Medium.
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