When one reads about the parent-child relationship, it is often assumed by default that the parent referred to is the mother, especially if the subject is on nurturing that relationship. Admit it or not, fathers are often left out of the parenting arena for a number of reasons: they feel inadequate, their partner makes them feel inadequate, or they simply don’t know how to relate to their child (it’s a different case for those who opt out).
But, as we know now in modern-day parenting, father-and-child relationships are just as integral as the one kids have with their mother to maintaining a solid and harmonious family life. But what builds that connection between father and child? How does a father make a difference in the life of his child — and, specifically, his son?
In an article on Verywellfamily, certified life coach and book author Wayne Parker notes that a father’s influence on his son may often be unseen as it happens in the most natural way, but the effects — whether they be good or bad — are undeniable.
“As a young man watches his father interact with his mother, he learns about respect (or disrespect), about how men and women interact and about how men should deal with conflict and differences,” he writes. In short, a boy learns how to be a man by watching and emulating his father.
Parker says that while he tries, he has a tendency to listen only for the first few minutes while his son is talking, and then he jumps in with a solution. This may sound like a good, active conversation on the surface, but the truth is, a fix isn’t always necessary — sometimes all the kids need is someone to listen.
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2. Go ahead and play rough.
Kids naturally love play. But even with a little roughhousing, you can bond with your child and teach him valuable lessons like how to keep safe and to be considerate of others. “You can take some very small and calculated risks to give them a more physical experience,” he says, not to mention that the memories you will make with him will be priceless.
There’s time for the whole family, but it’s also good to nurture relationships with each of your children. It doesn’t need to be a grand day out; it could be an afternoon playing catch, or watching him perform in a school event. Having your undivided attention and being able to bring up any subject with you tells your child he matters to you, and does wonders for his self-esteem.
4. Develop common interests.
Parker writes that when he was a child, he and his father had opposite personalities — where his dad was highly social and athletic, he was more of an introvert who was physically uncoordinated. And no amount of coaxing could make him want to play sports. Eventually, they discovered that they both enjoyed camping, which they soon found time to do often. Their relationship grew closer as they pursued an interest they both enjoyed.
5. Guide your child spiritually.
This is one of the more important roles of a father, Parker says. This does not always refer to any religion or faith — it only means to help your child see inward when he is mature enough for it. Guide his thought process and help him establish his strengths. This is something he will carry within him as he grows, which will become his compass for life.