There’s been a lot of traction on social media lately regarding how fathers can nurture their daughters — but what about their sons? Boys have emotional needs as well. How can dads and their boys connect on a deeper level?
1. Listen to Them
Everyone likes it when people pay attention to their ideas. Listening to your child is one way to create an immediate connection, but it can be difficult at first.
Some children go on and on and on … and on. It’s easy to slip into the habit of tuning them out, or worse, telling them to stay quiet. If you have a chatterbox, the “stop, look, and listen” technique helps teach children to pay attention to conversational cues. Help your child practice pausing after speaking a sentence or two, looking at the other people to gauge their interest in the conversation, and listen to what they have to say before continuing the discussion.
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Nonstop talking can also be a sign that your child needs help with managing stress or impulse control. Deep interests can also lead to kids talking a lot about a specific subject. When that happens, it allows you to connect on a deeper level.
2. Take Your Child’s Lead
Many dads try to connect with their sons through their own interests or those they had as boys, but this can backfire if the child doesn’t have fun. Some fathers feel rejected when their kids don’t like the same things. Some assume they’re too different to get along. If you run into a roadblock, keep trying. Shared interests open doors and help your children feel comfortable talking to you about anything, but that doesn’t mean you and your kids have to enjoy all the same things. And let your child take the lead sometimes when it comes to activities; ask him what he would like to do, and then give it a chance – you just may be surprised at how much you enjoy a new experience to which your son introduces you!
The other side of that coin is letting your child set the limits on how involved you get in their interests. It’s easy to get excited and go overboard. Even the most experienced of parents among us have let that happen, and risked scaring the kids off. Forgive yourself if this happens. Finding the right balance takes practice.
3. Discipline to Teach vs. to Punish
It’s hard for some parents to wrap their heads around the idea of discipline as a nurturing tool. They might even go to the extreme of not disciplining their kids to avoid causing distance in their relationships. Others lash out in anger because they take their children’s mistakes as personal affronts or embarrassments.
There are so many ways parenting forces us to put our egos aside, and this is a big one. Adopting better habits can be tough! Children need guidance, but it can be hard to find the right answers in the moment. One simple method to do it is to think of another dad you admire and imagine how he would handle the issue with his child.
It can be tough to show up when you’re parenting part-time, or long-distance, but the benefits of having a good relationship with your children won’t stop with you and your son. The lessons you teach him about being a good father will have an impact on every future generation. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start small and create the connections that count.
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