Studies show that involved fathers have a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of their children, and father-son activities make for enriching bonding experiences for parent and child alike. Choosing age-appropriate activities makes all the difference in the depth and breadth of the bonding that can occur as a result. Discovering a father's and son’s shared interests is the first step in planning enriching activities that both will remember for years to come.
Recreational activities such as sports help foster the bond between father and son while also promoting exercise, self-discipline, sportsmanship and conflict resolution. Sports-related activities are also flexible enough to allow different levels of paternal involvement. Some fathers may enjoy coaching their son’s baseball or soccer team, time and experience permitting. Dads with less time and experience can still engage in sports activities with their sons by playing catch in the backyard, shooting hoops in the driveway or even going on an outing to enjoy a favorite team’s game together. Other enjoyable recreational activities for fathers and their sons include playing a board game together or going on a bike ride or hike.
Father-son activities that promote and foster intellectual growth also provide bonding time while encouraging a child’s academic success. Fathers and their young sons can benefit both intellectually and emotionally from reading together, working on school projects collaboratively or visiting local museums. Dads and older sons can spend quality time together while sharpening cognitive skills by tackling puzzles or brain teasers together, figuring out how to repair household appliances together or even simply enjoying a trivia board game or television show together.
Not all father-son activities should be pure fun and games. According to research published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fathers that share in productive activities such as chores with their sons promote a sense of responsibility and significance in their child that is linked to self-esteem, achievement in school and work, and overall psychological health and well-being, even well into adulthood. Fathers can make washing dishes or cleaning up from dinner enjoyable for young, elementary school-aged sons by singing songs, listening to music, or playfully joking as they work together. Older sons in high school may enjoy competitive tasks such as seeing who can lift the most, while cleaning out the garage or competing for the fastest lawn-mowing time.
Work and community obligations can take up lots of fathers’ time and keep dads away from home and family much longer than they’d prefer. One way to resolve this common issue is for fathers to get sons involved in work and community activities. While it might not be the most appropriate decision for dad to drag his son into the office or to a board of education meeting, there are lots of ways children can get involved and taking a small, but meaningful, role in dad’s work. Sons can help dads organize paperwork, rearrange briefcases or even offer input on an occupational quandary. Fathers can bring older sons to company picnics, holiday parties or other outings where guests are encouraged. Fathers and sons can also unite and bond in working together on a community service project, such as volunteering at soup kitchen or organizing a food drive. Community service activities such as these can promote and develop a sense of pride and responsibility while encouraging the bond between father and son.