You love the fact that your son loves bonding with his dad over sports or playing a round of golf together, but how can you, as his mom, bond with him as well? If you are at loss, we have rounded up some unique and fun ways to bond with your son, have fun and create memories he will remember forever.
"Shared times like this make regular deposits in your boy's emotional bank account," says parenting expert Cheri Fuller, author of What a Son Needs from His Mom.
Bonding with your elementary age son
Making a connection with your elementary age son means joining in on the activities they like to do, even if that means practicing the perfect arm fart! "What can I say, they're boys," jokes mom Joronda Montaño, who said she also loves building "epic" forts with her sons.
"I discovered the best way to connect with my sons at this age was to get on their turf, see what they were interested in doing," suggest Fuller. "It might be shooting hoops, playing Ping-Pong, riding bikes or throwing a football. When he was interested in playing golf, I drove the cart for him several evenings. After a while, they would share a thought or tell me about something that happened at school. You could also teach him something he doesn't know how to do (such as playing an instrument) to create a possibility for connection."
Don't overlook the little things you can do as well. "Leave a note on his pillow, nightstand or laptop that says 'I'm proud of you and you will always be my boy' or 'I saw how you were such a good friend to Bill last week. That reminded me of your grandpa, one of the kindest and manliest men I know,'" says Fuller.
Here are more simple tips for bonding with your son:
- Leave a morning note for him: "He looks forward to this each morning and it gives him an opportunity to practice reading his 'sight words,'" says Elise Bogdan. "It also sparks good conversation and it's a perfect time for us to bond before the day gets too busy."
- Laser tag fun: "Nothing brings me closer to my son than getting up close and personal to his interests, like a round of laser tag!" says mom and AllParenting writer Michelle Maffei. "He loves the idea of beating mommy at something and it also helps me appreciate what a fun and happy boy he has always been."
- Plan a day just for him: "Plan a day that you will be alone with your son, no other siblings or family. Give the child a choice of say three activities that are especially fun for him. It doesn't even need to be an elaborate plan... a hike, a picnic at a favorite park or other outing. Outside is best," says Cheri Augustine Flake, therapist and author of the upcoming book, How to Be A Rock Star Mom. "Be there. Be present. Just be with him. Alone. And if the spirit moves you, climb a tree or two with him."
Bonding with your tween son
Bonding with your tween son can mean introducing them to fun new activities.
"I took up running several years ago and encouraged my sons to register for races with me," says mom Heidi Axelrod, who has two sons aged 11 and 17. "My oldest and I trained and ran together in his first 1/2 marathon. It is difficult to find activities that we can both share and running races is something we can do together. They both get excited when they receive their finisher medals. The boys now search the internet for local races to do together. Our next one is a Zombie run where 'Zombies' chase us along the run route. "
Here are more ideas for bonding with your tween son:
- A special gift just for him: "Gift giving is a concrete love language most boys appreciate," Fuller says. "Think of something your son would like and surprise him, [such as] an iTunes card, a new basketball or make his favorite dinner."
- Cook with him: "Have your son help you cook a meal," says marriage and family therapist Alyssa Slansky. "Whether your son is 5 or 15, he can help out in the kitchen. Giving him an age-appropriate task, such as putting vegetables in a bowl for the younger ones or chopping vegetables for a teen, not only gives your son self-confidence, but allows you to spend quality time together making a meal."
- Ski buddies: Mom Cynthia Flash says she taught her two boys how to ski when they were only 4 years old! "It's an activity we can do together. Well, now they're better than me. But we did it together for a long time and even if we don't ski together now we drive up to the ski area together!"
Bonding with your teenage son
"Want to engage boys? Do stuff. Move. Compete. Build," author Tim Wright says in his book, Searching for Tom Sawyer. "Boys bond with others through movement and activity, whereas girls tend to bond through conversations." Sawyer, who is a pastor in Phoenix, says one way you can do this is through a friendly game of basketball, free-throw shoot-out, trivia game, game of cards or even a board game. Monopoly anyone?
Sawyer also says the element of surprise always works to capture their attention. "Do something unexpected. Something with a hint of danger or even grossness."
Need more tips on bonding with your teenage son?
- Create an adrenaline rush with your teen: Mom and writer Jen Klein created a bonding moment (and "cool mom" points!) with her son when they tried zip lining together! "This zipline experience, from the fear to the thrill, is something only he and I have shared. His father and siblings did not do it, just the two of us. Only the two of us can relate to the heart-pounding feeling of hanging on a steel cable hundreds of feet in the air and descending that cable at almost 80 miles per hour. I think we'll be recalling that shared experience for a long time to come."
- Text them: Your teen probably has his nose buried in the phone, so why not send him a short text message to let him know you are thinking of them. "Send them a short text or Facebook messages — and know when to stop asking questions," suggest Flash.
- Modernize your playlist: Most teens are really into music and he may love sharing his favorite iTunes downloads with you. "Listen to their music. I actually really like it!" admits Flash.
- Dish while driving: "Take advantage of the time they're learning to drive to have quick chats with them in the car," says Flash. "Take advantage of any opening about school, girls, sex or drugs or other challenging subjects that may come up. Answer genuinely and honestly."
Lastly — and this tip is for sons at every age: "Always tell them 'I love you' when they go to bed or leave the house," says Flash. "Sneak in a hug now and then."