The first several years of his life flew by. Now your boy is a teenager, and finding things to do together can be somewhat of a challenge. Spending quality time with him is made more difficult when you have to compete with school, friends, sports activities, girlfriends, and social media to even have a two-minute convo with the kid you used to tuck in at night. It’s crucial to keep bonding with your young adult before he flies the nest. Doing so will keep you both close as he enters adulthood, and also help communication lines stay open so he’ll be more likely to come to you with problems and trust your advice. These father and son activities can be done no matter where you live and no matter your budget. Bonding with your son doesn’t have to be an expensive experience, nor does summer have to be boring.
Whip Up Some Great Food
Everyone should know how to feed themselves. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a master chef or even master of the grill. Learn together. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Make a list and have him drive you to the store (provided he has a license or permit). Show him how to select good, quality meat. All that’s left to do is marinate and grill, throw some potatoes in the microwave, open a bag of salad, and check one life lesson off your list. What if you are a gourmet? Then no culinary tips needed. Just get in there and share how to do your thing. He’ll learn self-sufficiency and not have to rely on frozen dinners and cheap fast food when he ventures out on his own.
Be Sports Fanatics
There’s nothing that screams ‘American’ like catching a baseball game with your son. Minor, collegiate, county, and city leagues are completely viable (and likely cheaper) options. Grab a couple of hot dogs, sodas, and foam fingers. Afterward, discuss the roster, the players, the umps, the plays of the day, or even the obnoxious spectators to your left – just as long as you’re talking about where you went, what you did, and how you both felt about it.
If baseball isn’t your cup of joe, there’s always soccer, ultimate frisbee, rugby, or anything else your community offers. Watch all of your favorite team’s games on the tube, as long as you’re both into whatever sport or team you’re cheering on. Rooting for the same team builds camaraderie, and playing or watching sports can teach kids a lot about being good sports, which can carry them far in life.
Show Him How To Work
Teach your son a skill. You don’t have to be a professional, but if you possess some tools and a little know-how, the two of you can tackle anything from working on the family car to welding to basic home repairs. Fix that leaky faucet, replace the toilet flapper valve, put a new battery in your truck, and install a new shelving system in the garage. You can also buy a used Eclipse and fix it up together. You can order the Mitsubishi parts and repair it so they can drive it when they turn 16. This will teach them maintenance and to take care of the car.
Whatever you do, make sure to be patient and don’t rush your kid; he’s learning much more than skills from you, he’s also picking up cues about how to work with and treat others. He’s developing a work ethic and learning that he has to actively maintain the home and/or vehicle he’ll get when he’s an adult.
You can never go wrong with an old classic: Enjoying the Great Outdoors. Go fishing, camping, hiking, or hunting. Play catch. Just do something outdoors with your boy. Show him you like spending time with just him and that he’s worth the investment. Fostering an appreciation for nature also helps kids know how to be at peace with themselves and provides them with an escape from television, video games, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Not that those things are bad, but it’s important they not become your teenager’s only source of entertainment. Aside from providing escape and clarity, getting out in the fresh air has health benefits and can teach resourcefulness.
The key word that should pop up in whatever you choose to do with your son is “share.” Share these experiences. Teens are sensitive and already pulling away from their parents at this stage, so share things with him and put a lid on any criticizing or bossing around.
Bonding with your teenage son now will not only bring you closer, it will also ensure that you two have commonalities in the future and remain close as he matures into adulthood and you approach old age. Learning fundamentally important life lessons will make him a stronger and better man and, should he one day have a family of his own, a good father. In other words, he’ll be just like you.