How To Build A Great Father-Son Connection
Raising children is one of the best and most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have in your life, but if can also be one of the most terrifying and confusing. You constantly doubt yourself and wonder if you’re messing them up at every turn, and although they say it gets easier as the years go on and you have more kids, it eally doesn’t - it just becomes different.
Just as the relationship between a mother and daughter can often be a complex one, the relationship between a father and his son is equally complex. The main issues that men often face is that the way we’ve been brought up to view men is that they have to behave in a certain way - they’re not allowed to display emotion because it’s seen as weak, and although these paradigms are shifting within our society, it’s definitely taking a bit of time.
So, in this post we’re going to share with you some of our top tips for building a great father-son connection that will hopefully help you build an unshakeable bond with your son as he grows from a small child to a man you can be proud to say you raised.
Be aware of the influence you have:
A big first step in building the connection and relationship you want to have with your son is understanding just how important your role is in his life. Whilst his mother is absolutely going to be a key figure in your son’s life, ideally he’ll have the influence of both parents because both are equally important for different reasons and will give him different things to carry into adulthood. You have to remember that children won’t very often do as you tell them to do, but will build their views of the world, and ultimately their behaviors based on what they observe from you, so you get to choose what kind of example you set to them.
For example, if you and your son’s mother are no longer together as a couple, it’s important that you lead by example in teaching your son to respect women - even if you and your ex can’t stand to be around each other. Too often people involve their children in their arguments and use them as a sort of emotional weapon and all this does is teach them that this behavior is normal and acceptable when in fact it’s highly dangerous, toxic, selfish and immature.
You need to understand that your son looks up to as a role model and this is possibly the most important role you’ll ever have in your life, so you should be practicing and modeling healthy behavior in front of your son.
Of course, it’s not just with regards to his mother that you need to remember you’re shaping your son’s view of the world, you should think carefully about how you speak of women in general, how you treat other people, such as waiters, for example, and just overall your general attitude in life.
If you have a defeatist mindset and a negative outlook on life, then you can be pretty sure that your son will likely pick up on this and model the same later in life even if this isn’t what you want for him.
However, at some point your son may become more self-aware as he reaches adulthood, and instead of looking at you as the person who helped to cultivate this positive mindset in him, he’ll look at you as the person who held him back from it for son long, and this can lead to resentment and an overall disconnect between you both.
Build mutual interests:
Whilst it’s important to let your son be his own person, as one of the foundations of building a connection with anyone lies in the commonalities you share, the same logic applies when building a connection with your son.
This isn’t to say you need to have every interest be the same - for example, he may like football and you prefer basketball, but then you can identify other areas where you share some common interests, and even when he’s a child you can look for things that you may even want to develop as a common interest since often it’s the aspect of nostalgia that really creates an interest in the first place. If you’re worried that you and your son have no common interests, there’s likely going to be something - although it’s not impossible, it’s pretty rare for a parent and child to be real polar opposites in every area, and the funny thing about that is, even in cases where people think they’re polar opposites, they actually have so much in common but can’t actually see it because this commonalities in their personality, such as stubborness often causes a clash of personality.
Don’t wrap them in cotton wool:
It’s absolutely normal for a parent to want to protect their child at every turn, and we’re certainly not saying let them play with knives or go wandering away from home after dark - safety precautions should always be taken when it comes to your child and as the parent you get to say what boundaries you set around that because you do know best.
However, wrapping your son up in cotton wool and never doing things like playing rough or the typical things that fathers and sons do together and have done perfectly fine with for generations is something that could definitely cause problems for him later in life because he’ll be too afraid to do anything and could end up in some pretty dangerous situations if he doesn’t know how to take care of himself.
These things like wrestling with your son or even playing the occasional video game are great for bonding and as long as you’re keeping your communication open and letting him know that violence isn’t a solution to life’s problems, then you’re probably going to be doing just fine.
Make time for father-son activities:
As mentioned above, if you have some common interests that you and your son both enjoy, then why not take these to the next level and enjoy some father-son bonding time? Even if you haven’t yet established what your common interests are, then you can think of the things you enjoyed as a child, whether it was with your father or just with your friends. It can be things like playing football together, going to watch a game together, going hiking or camping, or even riding bikes or a hover board together. The point is, it’s really not so much about what you do, but more about the fact you’re doing it together and using that time to really focus on building your relationship and connection with your son.
Take on projects together:
Taking on projects with your son can, not only be a great way to bond and build your relationship, but it’s a great way to show him some responsibility, build his confidence and also be able to see that you trust him and believe in him enough to let him take on important tasks. Even just asking for his input in things like renovating the garage or fixing up your car will do wonders for his confidence and self-esteem, and although you may not notice the difference immediately, these are the things he’ll carry into his adult life and that will really have the biggest imact, so maybe start thinking about any projects you have or potentially could have that you could do together with your son.
Learn to really listen to them:
Women are said to be listeners, and men are often said to be the doers and the problem solvers. Whilst there’s certainly nothing wrong with people a problem solver - especially when there’s actually a problem to be solved, sometimes you need to take a step back and really listen to what’s going on for your son and perhaps let him come up with his own solutions with you guiding him. Just knowing that he has someone who will listen to him when he needs it, but who can also offer him advice and solutions when he needs it is a great way to really establish a great bond with him.
Don’t shy away from important discussions:
As boys get older, they go through all the natural changes every other man on the planet does, but they can often feel totally alone in this moment and like there’s something wrong with them when in fact, there’s nothing wrong with them.
It’s important as his dad that you’re able to put your own discomfort and ego aside to develop a line of open communication with your son about things changing, for example, his body as he goes through puberty and the emotional and physical changes he may be experiencing.
Firstly, you’ll see that the idea of having these conversations is worse than the actual conversation, and you’ll feel a great freedom in breaking down so-called taboo subjects that will now become easier and more comfortable to discuss. Secondly, your son will be forever thankful that you were there when he needed you most and that you gave him the information he needed to make informed and safe choices.