Present Parent: 7 Ways to Bond with Your Teenage Son

benefits of father involvement father and teenage son middle class dad

Teenage boys are notoriously difficult to bond with. They’re at a stage where they want more privacy, less chit-chat and an insane amount of sleep. 

While your teenage son may not be particularly enthusiastic about spending time with you, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to bond with him however you can. Here are seven ways to grow your bond and create fond memories you both will cherish.

  1. Learn a New Skill Together

Learning something new with your son is a tried-and-true strategy for growing closer with him. Not only does it teach your son that you’re never too old to learn a new skill, it also gives the two of you something to talk about at the dinner table.

Pick an activity that you’ll both enjoy learning about. Even if you strongly suspect that you’re going to suck at it, sign up for it anyway.

In fact, the worse you are at your new activity, the better. If you’re both awful, you’ll have plenty of laughs to share about the experience later that will make you feel closer.

  1. Try Out His Hobbies

If your teenage son isn’t receptive to the idea of learning a new skill together, consider exploring some of his hobbies instead. Even if he has some peculiar pastimes, trying them out may be key to understanding him better and bringing the two of you closer.

Of course, not every teenager is keen on their parents inserting themselves into their hobbies. In this case, you may want to suggest something that is related to his hobby while still being new to the both of you.

For example, is he interested in classic cars? Take him to a classic car show and learn about automotive history together. He’ll get to expand upon his existing knowledge, while you’ll get the opportunity to see inside his world.

  1. Teach Him the Value of Self-Care

Let’s face it, a lot of our dads dropped the ball on teaching us the value of self-care. Simple habits such as taking good care of our skin or making a healthy, home-cooked meal were things that we mostly had to learn ourselves—and some of us are still learning!

Now is the perfect opportunity to teach your son a few self-care habits you wish you had learned earlier in life. For instance, maybe you can get him on a simple, uncomplicated skin care routine that he can follow even when he goes off to college.

Another self-care idea is to encourage him to take up yoga, which will strengthen his muscles and teach him a few valuable relaxation techniques. Though your son may not understand the importance of self-care yet, he’ll come to appreciate it later down the road.

  1. Share Some Laughs

Here’s a scientifically-proven way to bond with your son: Do activities that make both of you laugh. According to a 2017 study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, laughing with other people triggers a release of feel-good endorphins, which scientists believe plays an important role in social bonding.

If you share a similar sense of humor, pop some popcorn and watch a funny movie together. You can also sign up for a silly activity or a DIY project that you know will get some laughs.

  1. Step Away from Digital Devices

It’s impossible to be fully engaged with your son when both of you are glued to your phones or tablets. As difficult as it may be, try scheduling a time when both of you put down your devices and do a screen-free activity.

Spending time outdoors is a great excuse for the two of you to step away from digital devices and reconnect with nature. Once technology is out of the picture, it’s amazing how much easier it is to listen to your son and be completely present.

You can still bring your devices along on a hiking trip as a safety precaution. Just make sure that you switch them to airplane mode for your hike!

  1. Play Hooky

Yes, you read that right: Skip work and school to spend the day together. Not only is playing hooky on occasion perfectly acceptable, it may be beneficial to your teenage son.

Kids need a “mental health day” just as much as the rest of us, if not more. According to the American Psychological Association, teenagers report higher stress levels than adults during the school year.

Besides, there’s nothing like a little shared rebellion to help grow your special bond. Just make sure that you choose a day where he doesn’t have any important tests or assignments.

  1. Ignore Gender Stereotypes

By all means, teach your son how to fix a car or the secret to a great shave. Just don’t limit your bonding time to these stereotypical “man” activities.

Consider baking a cake with your son or take a dance lesson together. If he’s game for it, then why not?

By exposing him to a wide range of activities, your son can ease into adulthood without being weighed down by negative gender stereotypes. Besides, the more activities you expose him to, the more likely he is to find his true passion.

Finding a Connection with Your Teenager

Some teenage boys will go through a stage where they don’t want anything to do with their parents. Although this is completely normal, your son’s rejection can still sting.

If they aren’t interested in doing activities or hobbies with you, don’t force them into it. Instead, focus on being present and finding ways to turn everyday activities (such as chores or car rides) into bonding moments with your son.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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