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Fathers and sons: Bonding takes time!

| February 23, 2014

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Why do so many fathers NOT develop a strong relationship with their sons? The most apparent reason is TIME!

A father’s time with his son is priceless. A father knows what being a boy is all about, at least, the boy he once was. Why do so many fathers not develop a strong relationship with their sons? The most apparent reason is time. Fathers are often too caught up in work to give undivided attention to their son.

Another issue is how time together is used. A father can attempt to recapture his youth through his own son. Most often, this fails miserably. The world has changed, and children today have a completely different perspective on life from their fathers. When Dad tries to get junior to enjoy something Dad enjoyed as a boy, often Dad will press and attempt to maneuver or cajole his son into the same feeling he once had. Bad idea. Boys will pick up on the sense of manipulation and fight it. If they don’t fight it, they will only go along with Dad to keep from having to fess up to their boredom.

There is nothing wrong with a father trying to introduce his son to something from his youth, just don’t push. Dad should step back and gauge his son’s reaction. Often, if the magic of discovery is left up to the child, the child will come around to exactly the point Dad wanted him to be in the first place. Boys like to think discovery is their natural talent. This is true of children in general. Fathers should let their sons experience things on their own. If a father allows his son to ‘discover’ something, a connection is begging to be made.

Depending on the son’s age, the father feigning surprise is not necessary. A casual conversation about the father’s childhood experiences can lead to a “note comparison”. By sharing childhood similarities, a son can gain insight into this guy he calls Dad. When fathers and sons share information about discovery, they can then share projected possibilities. Both can then let their imaginations run wild. Fun and camaraderie will follow.

Another avenue fathers can pursue is letting their son ‘show’ Dad something of the son’s world. Most often this ‘thing’ a son wishes to share is something the father will view as trite or silly. Also, often what the son presents is a misuse of whatever the son sees. It is important for the father to attempt to see things from his son’s eyes. Just because the broom-handle disconnects from the broom and becomes a sword shouldn’t automatically garner the “don’t do that, that’s not what it’s used for” response from Dad.

Sure, Dad doesn’t want his broom in pieces all over the house, but just taking the time to step into a son’s imagination is huge for the son. This gives the son a feeling of legitimacy. Self worth. Self confidence. It also allows the father and son to interact on the child’s imagination level, even if only for a few moments. Dad may have his son put the broom back together, but he may also say “we used to make bows and arrows out of fallen tree limbs”. The son would most likely be intrigued, and then father and son can go on a hunting expedition . .

When a father steps back and lets his son lead the way, connections are made. There is a time for Dad to be Dad, but there should also be a time for the son to practice being Dad himself, in his small, often immature way. This is healthy for both, and both father and son will be closer for the effort.

Michael Ray King http://www.michaelrayking.com
I am the father of six children, ages 2, 9, 11, 13, 21, and 26. Four girls and two boys. My first book, “Fatherhood 101: Bonding Tips for Building Loving Relationships” was published in June, 2008. To get a copy of the book, check out http://www.clearviewpressinc.com or look the book up on Amazon.com.

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