According to Psychology Today, in almost every major study involving parenting, mothers were the only ones interviewed. This comes from an assumption that mothers were the key or more important parent for upbringing.
Unfortunately, it is hard for fathers to challenge the assumption since they only spend an average of 1 hour a day with their sons. In a survey by Bandai toys, they found that all the fathers they interviewed said the pressures of work cut down on their time with their sons. Of those fathers, 84% felt they spent too little time with their sons and 79% wanted to strengthen the father-son bonds.
Further studies and statistics highlight the significance of a father's presence in his son's life. In households where fathers are present and involved, sons are less prone to aggressive behavior, better adjusted socially and emotionally, tend to perform well academically, and are mindful of their health and behavior. As fathers take part in the nurturing, sons learn more about themselves and who they are supposed to be.
Strengthening the Father-Son Bond: Hobbies Made for Interaction
Connections between fathers and sons are built through creation of childhood memories and verbal communication. Hobbies that do both are ideal for fathers to forge links with their sons. With the often unavoidable pace of work and extracurriculars, the stronger and more meaningful the memory created, the better. Here are several hobbies that give the best chance of developing that father-son connection.
Hunting and Fishing
John Cuddeback, a father and 20 years a professor, suggests: “Hunting is also laden with seriousness, if not excitement, from beginning to end. Every action has real consequences. There is no pushing a 'new game' button here.”
It is a quiet activity that often requires sitting for hours in a blind together. Father and son do not need to delve straight into the meaning of life. Conversations ranging from the weather to where the next hunting site could be often lead naturally into confidences about school life, friends, and questions the boy would rather not bring up at the dinner table.
Fishing affords the same opportunity for conversation — even more, because the need for motionlessness is not as paramount. Sitting in the peace that comes with fresh wind over water, whether in silence or light conversation, gives a boy an opportunity to open up. In addition, that fierce shared joy that comes with the sudden series of tugs on the line slam-dunks the memory into long-term storage. He will always remember the strong positive emotion in connection with your time together.
Building and Fixing
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and mechanical projects are both a productive way to spend time together and a source of shared satisfaction between fathers and sons. Also, it takes care of that engineering itch that demands things be taken apart.
One possible DIY project is shelf construction. There are so many fun tools to pull out and show off: plumb lines, electric drills, saws, different screwdrivers — you name it. Whenever a new shelf is needed, behind a door, above a desk, or floor-to-ceiling against a wall, tackle it with your son on the next available weekend. He will enjoy measuring and marking off shelf spacings, aligning them with the plumb line, and drilling holes for screws. As the two of you build together, it also opens avenues for discussion.
Another great DIY project is building something for your pet. Whether it is a simple in-ground dog fence for your dog’s safety or a spacious dog house to give your pet a relaxed space to cool off, it is tough work. It has the same preparation to it as shelf-building, with planning measurements and assembling. However, there is more of the outdoors to it, more of physical play and strength, that brings a sense of shared fulfillment to father and son as they work.
Bending under the hood of a car to tinker with the engine is probably the most classic image of a father-son activity. Bonding over the grease and oil of a car engine is a memory not easily erased. That drive to know how things work is embedded in most boys, and when fathers can satisfy their curiosity, it reinforces their position as role models. Often, something as simple as letting the boy help in changing a tire becomes an affirming gesture of the father to the son.
Camping and Hiking
With all modern electronic gadgets left at home, camping and hiking are two of the best ways for fathers and sons to connect. Especially in camping, the day is filled with activities where a father can teach his son different skills. From setting up the tent to cooking, a father can communicate patience, persistence (when the tent refuses to stand, or the fire to light), and responsibility in public areas (keeping the area clean, practicing care with fires).
Hiking also has its share of activities that give a father opportunities to share knowledge with his son. He can teach him how to find his way around an area with a map and a compass, to trip and fall and get up again, to push past pain and fatigue to the finish line. It is the perfect time for father and son to encourage one another down the road, catch up on life to fill in the silence of the trail, or just quietly fall into rhythm.
Father-Son Hobbies: Building Boys for Life
Interestingly, psychologists have a difficult time defining and classifying what fathers do that builds more secure, better-adjusted children. Fathers do not seem to follow any formula for spending time with their kids, unlike mothers, who are easier to classify because their approaches to caring are often the same.
However, psychology has definitely proven that the more time fathers spend in play and conversation with their children, the better the child's development will be. So hobbies are not only casual ways for fathers to hang out with their sons, but critical activities that will form and shape the boys for future manhood.