You often hear people speak about masculinity. But how do you describe this inherent nature? I describe it as a combination of male energy and identity. That ‘maleness’ inside us which is like a restless animal that needs stimulus, positive channelling and training to be fully effective.
That part of your son is yours to shape – to impress with your values and your mission. And to pass on that vision, you must understand it for yourself.
If you are to bond, it has to be in the context of developing and channelling your shared male energy.
That’s why activities are so important: sure you could go out for dinner, but would that allow you to express what ultimately makes you male – that unshakeable thirst for adventure, to push boundaries and answer questions others are too scared to ask?
I put out the Twitter poll above to see what your favourite activities are for father/son time. There was a heavy bias towards the outdoors. This is no surprise as the best times and memories with my son (and my own father) have been in the outdoors.
I even devoted a whole section of my book A Father’s Mission to the power of the outdoors. Here’s what one of you said on reading that chapter:
The story of your father’s notebook of all the mountains he climbed gave me insane chills.
But your bonding time doesn’t have to centre around the outdoors (or any other activity for that matter) find what works best for you and your son. And, most importantly, enjoy yourselves.
What you’ll find below is an ideas list – and why I like them. If there’s something that you love doing that isn’t here, add it in the comments section. I’m always looking for new ideas and different perspectives.
The Best Father Son Activities
I’m going through these in order of how popular they were in the poll. That doesn’t mean one is more or less valuable. I chose these because that are activities I’ve done with my own son to varying degrees of success. All have merit and some of the other suggestions were also great including fishing, hunting and combat sports.
After and before. We’ve been going to the Turkish barber together since he was 18 months old.
I’ve taken my son to a barbers from when he was two years old. I’m especially fond of the Turkish barber experience. the only downside with the barber is that it doesnt last very long. however you could stack it with other activitues like the movies or even….
Going to the Game
A local match (rugby in this case) is a good place for younger boys to get used to watching live sports.
What sports do you like? Football, soccer, rugby, cricket? If you’re into sports, you probably want your son to follow suit.
I didn’t go to many sports matches with my Dad but the handful that we did together are clear and enjoyable memories. A sports match might not seem like a great place to do father/son time but think about it:
You will travel there together – at least an hour to chat, joke and share ideas
You’ll sit next to each other for around two hours.
You will be eating together – I like a Scotch pie and Bovril (a kind of beef tea) when I’m at the football.
You can talk about the game, the players, the weather, the food or whatever
If your son isn’t really into sports, then this might not be a good idea for older boys. Better to choose something you’ll both enjoy.
If you have young kids, be aware of your son’s attention span and ability to withstand cold. In Scotland, football and rugby is played through the winter. Getting a 6-year old to concentrate for two hours in -2 C temperatures might be a teeny bit of a struggle.
Hiking or Camping
It’s hard to think of a view better than this.
This was easily the most popular answer in the Twitter poll with over seventy percent of you thinking that this was the best father/son activity.
The outdoors is the ideal place to get deeper with your son through shared experience, risk, hardship as well as giving you the opportunity to teach important skills like fire lighting, tracking animals and generally being aware of your environment. If you don’t have these skills, buy a book and learn them together.
Honourable Mentions: Home Projects, Hunting and Combat Sports
In the poll I ran, I also let you select ‘other’ and post your ideas below. There were some great suggestions. Why not incorporate some or all of these into the time you spend with your son. Make it your mission to make the time you spend together matter.
I especially like the idea of doing home projects together with your son. I’m the first to admit that I’m not so handy with home improvements – the garden is where I make my money!
Hunting and combat sports are things I haven’t much experience of in a father/son context – my boy is just coming to an age when this will be practical. If you’ve got experience in either, please post a comment below.
Your Mission: Make Your Time Together Matter
You can’t buy or make time. But you can kill it.
What you do with your time matters. The time you spend with your son matters even more.
You have a limited amount of time to share your values with your son. To teach him, enjoy his company and help him become the man that his time will need. It’s up you to teach him strength, reslience and determination.
But it’s also our responsibility to teach the ‘softer’ skills of good communication, conversation, empathy, compassion and mercy – all of which are equally valuable traits of masculinity
P.S. My book explores what it means to be an effective father in our modern times. Buy it here.