We all know about the importance of fathers spending time with their sons. The relationship a boy has with his father greatly shapes the man he will become in the future. You can help mold your boy into a man you’ll be proud of by taking him on special father/son activities. These kinds of activities allow you to spend some needed one-on-one time with your boy. And they’re particularly conducive to bonding. Men don’t like to sit face to face and talk about their feelings. It’s much easier to open up when we’re doing something side by side, and we can just let the talk flow naturally as we cast a fishing line or tinker with tools.
Below we’ve come up with a list of 11 awesomely manly activities that you can do with your son to strengthen the paternal bond with him. You can even do these with your own father to re-connect with him as well.
A father and son fishing is an iconic image of paternal bonding. Andy Griffith took Opie fishing all the time and look at the relationship they had. This fishing stuff really works. But seriously, I’m sure we all remember the time when our dad’s taught us how to rig a line or make our first cast or how he beamed with pride when we caught our first fish. Make sure to bring your camera so you can document the big one your son catches.
America’s pastime has brought fathers and sons together for over a century. Sure, it’s a bit cliche, but there’s something about playing catch with a baseball that can really bond a father and son. What’s nice about playing catch with your son is that it can provide opportunities to really open up and have deep conversations with him about life. Even if you don’t get all philosophical, the time you spend in the front yard showing your son how to throw a split seam will be a memory he’ll keep for the rest of his life. The father/son bonding power of playing catch is so real, it even lasts beyond the grave!
Building a Pinewood Derby Car
If your son is in Scouts, he’ll most likely take part in the pinewood derby. Working with your son to build the fastest car at the race can definitely bring a father and son together. However, fight the temptation to highjack the project from your son and do it all yourself. First, it’s bad form. The pinewood derby is supposed to be a competition between the boys, not between over-competitive fathers. Second, when you make the car all by yourself, you’re missing out on an opportunity to show your son how to cut and sand wood or how to paint. These are skills that your son will call upon the rest of his life. Moreover, your son is more likely to remember the time spent building the car with you than whether his car won. I know that’s what I remember when I think back to my pinewood derby days. So instead of being the chief, just be a guide.
What better place to re-connect with your son (and your masculinity) than in the great outdoors? The teaching opportunities on a camping trip are endless. For starters, you can show your son how to start a fire, how to navigate with a compass, how to use a pocket knife, how to identify plants and animals, and how to tie basic knots. Besides all the practical knowledge you can pass down, sitting around a campfire give you a chance to to pass on some manly wisdom on life.
Building a Model Rocket
Building a model rocket is sort of like building a pinewood derby car with your son, except a model rocket involves fuses and combustion; two things that are bound to excite any boy. While you’re building the rocket, you can inspire your son with stories of daring test pilots and brave astronauts. Who knows? Maybe your time building and shooting off a rocket will lead to a career in space engineering.
Going to a Sporting Event
There’s nothing like watching sports to bring men together. Instead of rooting for your favorite team from the living room couch, pack up the car and take your son to watch them live and in person. You can teach your son how to snag a foul ball or show him how to score a baseball game by hand. Buy the kid a hot dog and a team jersey and he’ll be on cloud 9 for weeks. Whatever sport you go watch, your son will definitely remember that day for the rest of his life.
Working on a Car
When your son graduates from pinewood derby races, it’s time to start working on a real life car with him. Sadly, many men today (myself included) are utterly clueless when it comes to basic car maintenance. You can ensure that your son is one of those few self-reliant men by teaching him how to change the oil or brakes on his car. If you’re one of those men who doesn’t know how to do basic car maintenance, make it a project to learn together with your son. If you and your son have oil changes down pat, take on the challenge of restoring an old beater into pristine condition. The satisfaction you’ll get as your son puts the key into the ignition and she roars to life will be unmatchable.
Hunting is a perfect time to bond with your son. Why? Well, if you’ve never been hunting, you pretty much sit around in a blind all day. That gives you plenty of time to talk shop with your son. Talk sports, talk politics, or talk about how you’re freezing your asses off. Just talk. Also, it gives you another chance to pass on some man skills like how to track an animal or how to handle a gun. Even if you don’t bring home a trophy, you’ll both come back with plenty of memories.
Road trips can definitely be conducive to father/son bonding. Being in a car for hours on end provides ample time to talk and connect with your son. A father/son road trip can be as simple as a day drive to watch a baseball game or a complex cross-country journey that takes you to new and interesting places. Just make sure he leaves his gadgets at home or else you’ll never talk to him.
Go to the Barber Shop
Initiate your son into the temple of manliness known as the barber shop. Visiting the barber shop with your son is a great way to spend a Saturday morning together. You can chew the fat with other men, get a sharp hair cut, and if your son is lucky, he’ll get a piece of gum from the barber after he’s done.
Teach your son the importance of giving back by taking him to do a service project with you. There are few qualities as important to exemplify to your son than that of being service-oriented. Opportunities to serve are all around us. Sign up for Habitat for Humanity, and show your son how to hammer and paint correctly. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. It will give your son a chance to rub shoulders with different kinds of people, and he’ll hopefully walk away with a better appreciation for what he has and a bit more compassion for his fellow man.