You will find many more activities to participate in with your son when he is young. Trips to the park, the zoo, a movie, or to pick out a new toy provide opportunities for bonding. However, as your little boy turns into young man, finding activities you both enjoy equally may become a real challenge.
The key with your older son is finding opportunities for communication. It is important to help him feel that he can talk to you about anything. To do so, you need to actively involve yourself in his life. Following are some things you can do to make bonding a natural part of your son’s life.
Follow His Interests
It doesn’t matter if his passion is sports, video games, or the latest music or movie. You need to show an interest in whatever he is pursuing. Start when he is young visiting his room during play time and continue to do so.
Yes, he will reach a time when he values his privacy, but you need to know what interests he is pursuing. One rule we had for children was that they could be on the computer whenever their homework was done. However, their monitor faced the hallway and their door had to be opened. Also, their computer had to be turned off when we went to bed. We started this when they were very young and it continued through their teen years. We never had any problem with unacceptable computer use.
Know what computer games your son plays. Ask him what level he is on. Show a real interest in his accomplishments. Try to set a reasonable limit on his computer game time by providing other activities. In my experience, teens that spend too much time on the computer do so because they have nothing else to do. Participation in after school activities, sports, and other interests usually means less computer time.
If your son participates in sports, attend all his games. Provide transportation for him and his friends and, if possible, plan on a meal before or after, either alone or with other team members. Make sure he has the equipment he needs for success. If he needs shoes or a special mitt or glove, take him shopping for the desired item.
If he likes a particular music group, listen with him and ask questions. Consider buying tickets to a concert and even going with him. Don’t deride his music choice. If you think back to when you were his age there was probably a group you liked that you have now outgrown.
If there is a movie he wants to see, take him to it. Or wait for it to come out on video, buy it, and watch it with him. Talk about the movie – its theme, the characters, and the actors involved.
Set an Evening Each Week for Time Together
Start when your child is young having one set evening a week when you spend some time alone together. It does not matter if you go out, although that is an excellent option. Your time together can be as simple as cleaning up the kitchen after dinner together, having a special dessert at the kitchen table with some talk-time, or watching a sit-com together. Just make sure you both agree to take the time on the evening you have agreed upon every week without fail. Even if you can only squeeze out a few moments of time before bed, do it.
Entertain Your Son’s Friends
This is not “alone” time, but it is an opportunity for bonding.
From the time your son has his first play date, invite his friends over. If your home is the place his friends gather, you will have a number of advantages. First, you will know who your son’s friends are. This becomes very important as he becomes a teenager. Secondly, you will maintain some control over the activities in which he participates. He will be much less likely to engage in risky behavior – drugs, drinking, etc. – if you are involved in his life. Thirdly, having close male friends can delay dating, and the resultant emotional roller coaster that can ensue.
And don’t just let them crash and play at your house. Interact with your son and his friends. You can give his friends the advice he doesn’t appear to want to pay any attention to. As they listen and you become the “cool,” go-to Mum for your son’s friends, you will not only build bond with your son, but also foster his respect.
All during your son’s growing years, stay aware of his interests and involve yourself in any area of his life that seems appropriate. His interests and friends will change, but he only has one mother. Being a consistent, reliable companion can build a bond that will last all through both your lives.