Doing something together is one of the best way for dads and sons to grow closer.
Whatever your challenges as a father may be, however, don’t underestimate how much it means to a boy to simply spend time alongside his father doing an activity. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, here are a few great ways to bond. And sons, you could also suggest these ideas to your fathers — you’re never too old for some bonding time with dad …
Go to the barber shop
I particularly enjoy finding an old-school Italian barber, the kind who has a candy-striped pole for a sign and gets out a dangerous-looking razor as part of the haircut. But whoever the barber is, there’s a certain vibe about a barber shop that helps bring boys into one of the privileged rituals of manhood.
Have wrestling matches
My boys are getting big enough now that they can inflict some serious damage on me. If they ever learn to work together I’m doomed. Males are wired, for whatever reason, to bond through physical play, so wrestle often with your sons even if they’re starting to get the upper hand.
This is a classic activity for a reason. Sports is an obvious bonding moment, but all too frequently sports has become a high-stakes affair of endless practices, travel teams, and coaches who are super-serious. Throwing the ball around in the yard removes all that stress. It has no purpose other than to enjoy the day together.
Hang at the coffee shop
Look, it isn’t a great idea to get an eight-year-old boy wired up on caffeine. But this is what makes it all the more awe-inspiring when I take my boys to the coffee shop for some man time. I give them a scone and a small sip of coffee as an induction into #Dadlife and they’re tremendously impressed with the gravity of the moment.
Become an altar serving team at Mass
I recently invited the fathers in my parish to create father-son teams. A few of the dads took me up on the offer, and I have to say, nothing is better than seeing fathers and sons practicing their faith together while they do a serious, important job at Church.
Make a fire
Bonus points if you grill some meat on it. Making a fire is primal and it’s dangerous. Inducting your sons into the time-honored tradition of grilling food outdoors is an easy way to have some time with them and teach them a useful life skill.
Read books to them
It’s important that this job doesn’t always fall to mom. It’s especially good for boys to hear adventure stories and tales of heroism from dad. I don’t know why, but the memory of it remains etched in the minds of many men, how their father used to read to them when they were young and how much they loved it.
Participate in scouting
I see a lot of moms in charge of boy’s scouting groups. Moms are awesome, but ideally dads will participate with their sons and lead the group. This is a golden opportunity to go camping together, do service projects, and learn about outdoorsmanship.
Build something with real tools
Power tools are dangerous. You can do a lot of damage with one if you’re not careful. This is exactly why boys love them. With the help of Dad, boys can learn how to safely and responsibly harness that great power to create something. When a father-son team creates a spice rack for mom, they boys are bonding with Dad and learning from him how to care for the women in their life.
Play chess together
It’s odd how quickly boys take to the game of chess. They love strategy and the challenge. A father and son can bond over this game even if there’s a minimum of talking. And if neither of you likes chess, choose another game of strategy.
Visit an art museum
Manly men appreciate art. It’s good for fathers and sons to learn to appreciate the finer things in life together. If Dad helps his boys see that becoming cultured isn’t a challenge to their masculinity, he’s taught them a wonderful lesson. Talking together about the art is a great bonding opportunity.
Show him how to tie a tie
Anytime a dad can pass on arcane knowledge it’s a good thing. Handing on traditions, even one as simple as explaining a tie knot, is a vital part of generational bonding. Every time I tie a tie to this day, I remember my dad showing me how to do it when I was a teenager, but today more than 90 percent of kids turn to the internet before they ask their father.
Go on a local animal safari
Explore the great outdoors with your son by showing him how to find scorpions and scary spiders under rocks, or lifting him up to look inside a bird nest.
Have a backyard camp out
Camping is great, but even if you don’t have the time for a camping trip, you can always set up the tent in the back yard and have fun together. Boys don’t particularly need a whole lot to impress them and to them the backyard is a place of wide-open adventure.
It doesn’t so much matter what you choose to do together, it just matters that you take the time to do them. The memories made are invaluable; and the relationship you will forge together is irreplaceable.