Technology. Trends. Modern attitudes. Yes, the world is changing. And as dads, we need to change with it to make sure we give our sons the best start in life.
So whereas fishing, hunting or playing catch may have been essential for father-son bonding and teaching our children the ways of the world in years past, fathers need to get with the times. Here’s an essential list for all us up-to-date dads.
Father son bonding activities for the modern world
1. Share Stories
The bedtime story is as old as parenting itself. But for many, the kids’ classics are several generations out of date. Dads are surely much more excited about sharing the stories that inspired them as children, which basically means fairy tales and Roald Dahl are out, and back-to-back marathons of the original Star Wars trilogy are in. You might be tempted to do a couple of the prequels as well, but don’t, lest you fail as a father and ruin your son’s childhood forever.
2. Guide Them To Sporting Glory
Never mind a kick-about in the park or practising the all-important life skill of throwing and catching – having grown up in the age of the games console, the average modern dad is more likely to have excellent skills on FIFA 17 on the Playstation than he is with an actual non-digital football. And the modern tech-savvy world, passing on such sporting prowess is crucial. Plus, when your eight-year-old inevitably starts running rings around you, it’ll give you a chance to go on about how computer games aren’t as good as they used to be and how you would have demolished them at Super Mario back in the day.
3. Educate Them In Problem Solving
Gone are the days of the textbook and abacus. Today, the most important learning tool for many families is the home computer. So instead of sitting down to help your son with his sums and fractions the old fashioned way, the chances are that important father-son moment will take place sat at the PC, setting a stellar example by using Google to solve maths problems instead of having to do any actual thinking of your own.
4. Let Them Educate YOU In Problem Solving
The computer can continue to play a part in your relationship, even as your son grows up. After leaving home, many young men still call their fathers for seasoned advice on basic manly tasks – DIY projects, checking the car engine and other practical activities. But now it’s the father who calls the son for help, mostly to ask how to work Skype or close down a desktop window, even though they’ve already been told 50 times.
5. Teach Hunter-Gatherer Skills
Just as the hunter-gatherer would take his offspring out into the wilderness, so the modern father must teach his son in the ways of survival. Actual hunting, however, is far too much like hard work. In this day and age, the measure of one’s manhood is more likely to determined not by how many bison one can wrestle to the ground, but much gastro-friendly burger and chips you can consume in one sitting, so some pukka-style cooking skills might be more appropriate – gourmet hotdogs, mac and cheese, or whatever else trendy modern man is supposed to cooking this week. Conversely, you can just pass your son the number to your local Domino’s.
6. Manly Son And Hair Lessons
Teaching your son to shave is a true rite of passage, as you guide him through one of the final steps on his way to manhood. But in this age of reconstructed masculinity, the cleanly shaved chin is about as fashionable as a knotted handkerchief on the head. The modern dad would better serve his son with advice on how to manage trendy facial hair – beard trimming, moustache shaping, and an encyclopedic knowledge of beard oils.
7. Share Childhood Memories
Think back to when you were a child and your dad got into the attic to pull down his box of old tat, filled with his old stamp collection, Brooke Bond Tea football cards, or vintage toy soldiers. It’s an important moment in a boy’s life, as he learns more about the formative years of his own father, who, at that time, is still his ultimate hero – and the man the boy aspires to become himself. Now you’re the father, it’s time for you to do the same by fetching down your own collection of heirlooms – your original Ninja Turtles, an old Atari, or a complete Premier League sticker album. Then tell your son to keep his grubby hands off because they’re definitely worth something on eBay, and you’re going to be buried with them anyway. So hard luck, sunshine.
8. Stay Connected
This is the age in which fathers and sons can bond in the most 21st Century of ways: by connecting on social media. The tragedy, of course, is that by the time your kid’s old enough to be on social media, you’ll be so many technological steps that your inability to keep up or master basic online etiquette will be a constant source of embarrassment to your son, forcing them inevitably block or un-follow without you. Not that you’ll ever realise, mind you.