Before we talk about a relationship between a father and his son, let’s examine a relationship between two, generic people. The best way to get to know someone that you’ve just met is spending some time alone with them. You talk some, you listen some, and you learn about their life, their likes and dislikes, and their dreams. You don’t even need to be sitting over a cup of coffee to do it. Sharing information back and forth is a great way, in fact the best way, to feel close to someone.
Now let’s project this scenario onto a more specific relationship: that between fathers and sons. To connect with your son, you have to be able to spend some time alone with him. This can be hard enough with a busy schedule, but is ABSOLUTELY fundamental. How can you grow close to him if you can’t even find the time to hang out with him?
Even before you’ve carved out some alone time for you and your son, it’s important to have put some thought into what you two will do together. It’s been my personal experience that a daughter might like to JUST sit and talk, but that sons have to DO something while they talk. Plan on doing an activity together that he has always wanted to try, but he’s never had the chance to do. Go for a hike together. Play catch in the backyard. Watch as he absolutely demolishes you at a video game. Go to the library to check out some books together. WHAT you do isn’t important as long as it’s something that HE likes to do. Nothing would kill this carefully planned quality time like you choosing an activity that your son hates. Need some help? Ask him what he would like to do during your time together.
Now that you’re together, make sure that the time is just for you and your boy. Turn off the cell phone. Pry yourself away from the game. Make sure that there won’t be any distractions.
Now that you’re alone, doing an activity he really enjoys, ask him a question, and then LISTEN to his answer. He gets talked to all the time at school, and believe it or not it’s more important to him that he is understood, than for him to understand you. This will certainly open the door for connecting to your son.
Sounds easy, right?
The biggest roadblock that can arise from forming this relationship- The one between a dad and his son is actually integral to this one of a kind relationship…
One of the two of you is the DAD.
This isn’t to say that you can’t be friends with your son.
What I mean is that you can’t be JUST friends with your son. You have to be the father as well as a friend.
If my son breaks a household rule, (without mommy knowing about it) I can not think of it as an opportunity of growing closer to him by winking at the infraction, and letting him get away with it. That would undermine my wife as a parent, set a poor precedent for future, BIGGER, rule-breaking, and set a terrible example about the consequences of right and wrong to my son.
Consistently holding your son accountable for his actions, I feel, is a very important part of having a strong father/son relationship. If your son has no idea how you will react when you correct him, he won’t have a clear understanding of what it means for you to be his father. If your son knows exactly how Dad will respond when he has done something wrong, he will actually have a sense of security in knowing that the father/son relationship is firmly in place.
Good luck Dad!
In the future, look for specific bonding suggestions for sons of different age groups. If you have a comment, question or concern, I’d love to hear it!