The father-son relationship can be complex. Fathers and sons with widely different interests can find it hard to relate to one another. Sometimes dads and sons feel competitive against one another. Sometimes their male tendencies to not communicate feelings are compounded as both want a better father-son relationship but neither one quite knows how to go about it. Here are some key elements to creating and building a strong father-son relationship:
Sons are influenced by their fathers
Whether we know it or not, our sons learn about being a man primarily by watching their fathers.
A father’s influence on his son’s personal development is often unseen but nonetheless real. As a young man watches his father interact with his mother, he learns about respect (or disrespect), about how men and women interact and about how men should deal with conflict and differences. As he watches his dad interact with other men, he will learn how men talk, how they relate with one another and how they deal with masculine issues.
Listen to your sons
Listen to them without judgment and without trying to fix things too soon will go a long way to building a lasting relationship. Look for opportunities to be with your sons when you can just listen.
Don’t be afraid of a little boisterous play
A little wrestling in the backyard goes a long way. It seems like with boys, this little bit of wild behaviour is a bonding experience. You have to keep them safe, but you can take some very small and calculated risks to give them a more physical experience. Later in life, this may translate into activities like rock climbing, skateboarding, and ice hockey.
Take on a big project
There is something magical to a boy about being involved in something bigger than himself. But these big, visible projects can really help a father and son bond. Some dads and sons build planter boxes, landscape a garden, build a holiday cabin or head off on a big summer biking trip. Whatever it is, a bigger than life project done together can create a bond that will last a long time and make memories you will talk about together for decades.
Don’t be afraid of the big talk
Take the time to teach your sons about sex and relationships. Being open to having these conversations will help your sons develop better attitudes about sex and girls in general. With the ever-increasing presence of sex in the media, on the computer and in conversations with their friends, you will find your relationship not as strong as it could be if you avoid talking about these difficult subjects and let them develop their attitudes about sex and relationships from other sources who may not share your values.
Focus on the positives
Our children are bombarded with negative messages all around them. Just watching commercials on television will create a sense of inadequacy in our sons. They probably are not quite as strong, they may not have six pack abs or be quite as good looking as the guys they see on television. As fathers, we need to catch them doing things right and communicate our approval. We should create positive ways to celebrate their accomplishments. Feeding them constant reinforcement will help build relationships of trust and overcome this constant barrage of negativism that they confront daily.
Make one on one time
We need to make time for individual relationships with each child. So make sure that you program some one on one time with your sons.