From time to time, it’s important to take stock and look closely at the relationships you have with your children. The father-son bond in particular, is one that changes throughout your son’s physical and mental development, but the one constant, essential for a healthy father and son relationship, is spending ‘quality time’ together.
While it is widely used, ‘quality time’ is a phrase that is commonly misunderstood. More than simply spending time with your son, quality time is, “time spent with children, during which full, undistracted communication and interaction can take place.” - The Macquarie Dictionary. The key here is the word “undistracted” – in order to spend true quality time with your son you should give your son your full attention and actively listen to what he has to say.
Quality time is one of the most important ways to strengthen your father and son bond. It can include time spent talking, playing games, kicking the football or cooking together. It is giving someone your undivided attention for the duration of an activity with no distractions – no quick phone calls, no reading the newspaper, no email checking and no social media monitoring.
It can be difficult to find ways to become closer to your son, so here are nine ways to strengthen your father-son bond:
1. Develop common interests
Relationships can be difficult without a common interest to enjoy, discuss and laugh about. Find something that you and your son both enjoy, whether it is making things, playing sport, jamming or just clowning around. If you are both having fun, you are more likely to be fully attentive, and your son may look for more opportunities to spend time with you.
2. Complete a project together
Restore a car, build a cubbyhouse, design a garden area or organise a camping trip. By sharing a project, you will have plenty of time to talk, laugh and simply enjoy each other’s company. Let your son have genuine input so he feels like he is making a worthy contribution, and resist the urge to ‘take over.’
3. Be active
Physical activity is first and foremost about having fun! Relax and unwind after a hard day at school or work; have a laugh while kicking a football together or catch up on life while enjoying a run. Physical activity is good for your body, mind and spirit and you can enjoy the benefits together.
4. Be firm and fair
It is understandable to want to be your son’s friend; but first and foremost, you are his parent. Set clear boundaries for your son, so he knows what is expected of him. Ensure your expectations are reasonable and be consistent in how you apply and enforce rules. If you are firm and fair, your son will learn to respect boundaries.
5. Be patient during conversations
Be there for your son and be patient. At times he may not want to talk to you about school, his mates or girls, but if you offer your support and let him know you are there, the lines of communication will remain open and he will turn to you when he is ready.
6. Be confident when having difficult discussions
The time will come when you need to have tough conversations with your son about results, expectations, drugs, alcohol or sex. Be calm and confident when addressing these topics. If your son can sense tension or apprehension in your delivery, he will undoubtedly feel these emotions too. Ensure your son feels as comfortable as possible and reassure him that by having these discussions, you are simply helping him to become a better man. If your delivery is confident and relaxed, he will respect you for your openness and support.
7. Nurture your son
Show your son that you love him by displaying affection. While your son may not want to hold your hand and will shun kisses or even hugs as he matures, you can show affection in other ways. Leave thoughtful notes in his room, pat him on the back, give him a loving high five or just sit close to him when watching TV. In addition to physical signs of affection you can show verbal affection by asking how he is and praising him for the things he does well and the things that make you proud.
8. Get involved
Strengthen your father and son bond by getting involved in your son’s life. Take him to school, go to his assemblies, watch his recital and enjoy his cricket match. Be there and be involved. The more he sees you around, the stronger your bond will be.
9. Be a positive role model
As a father, you have the responsibility of teaching your son how to be a man. How you manage your relationships with others will determine how your son manages his, as he will reflect your behaviours. You can show him how to have strong, meaningful relationships with his mother, sister, brother, partner, friends or acquaintances by treating them with respect, honesty and trustworthiness. Teach your son how to be a good man by always being a positive role model.
By strengthening your father-son bond, you will have a positive impact on your son’s life and you will both reap the rewards of a positive, open and loving relationship.
Trinity Grammar School is fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, and we pride ourselves on knowing, understanding and nurturing every student. For over a century we have inspired boys to realise their potential, passions and purpose.
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