Getting back to nature is an age-old pastime that still has meaning today. Your son will learn self-reliance and appreciation of nature. And hey, your SUV will actually travel off paved roads for once. Your definition of camping might be setting up a tent, staying in a camper or even renting a cottage if you really can’t stand roughing it. Regardless, camping is especially meaningful if you live in an urban area; the calm and quiet of the woods can be downright therapeutic, if a little overwhelming at first. Your son might not get the idea right away and want to revert to his Game Boy, but be patient. Given a little time to adjust, he’ll probably have more fun at the lake and on the trails than he ever thought possible.
2. Sporting events
It may be one of the most popular father-son activities, but it’s also where a lot of guys sap the quality out of the experience. How many times have you gone to a sporting event only to have it tainted by a rude, drunk guy? It’s embarrassing to even be in his section. But here’s your chance to be a bigger man than the obnoxious drunk guy. Remember: You have to set the example of enthusiasm and team spirit without poor sportsmanship. It also helps to be in a kid-friendly atmosphere, so check out a college or amateur game. If they don’t offer free admission, it’s usually low-dough. You’ll probably be closer to the action, too.
Whether it’s on a road bike, mountain bike or hybrid, bicycling is great exercise for both of you. It’s relaxing to hit a bike trail away from traffic and you can bond with your son as you take in the scenery. It can be habit-forming, too. If your son takes a real interest in it, he just might continue biking into adulthood, and that’s a healthy habit you can be proud to have influenced.
Your son should know there’s more to life than microwave burritos. If prefab food is the extent of your own culinary skills, it’s never too late to right the course. You can experiment and learn together. Cooking a meal -- a real meal -- is something that’s actually fun if you’re patient and willing to practice a little. Your son will soon realize that great-tasting meals are possible with healthy ingredients. This is another habit he can develop further as he matures; everyone knows women dig guys who can cook.
5. Working around the house
Show him how things work around the house, as well as how they’re maintained and repaired. You’ll obviously do most of the work, but let him watch while you explain the process. He’ll respect you for being able to solve problems, and you’ll lay the foundation for him to do the same. By the time he’s old enough to take on light tasks by himself, he’ll have learned the responsibility and value of maintaining his home.
6. Automotive maintenance
Teaching your son the basics of automotive care is valuable on many levels. First, he probably digs cars anyway, so it’ll be an easy way to bond. Second, when he gets his own wheels, he’ll already know the basics of car care and the consequences if he doesn’t perform maintenance.
7. Fishing or hunting
Fishing and hunting don’t appeal to everyone, so it’s really a question of preference. Are they a good fit for you and your son? These activities can be fun and relaxing, but they also demand discipline and responsibility. If you do hunt, we recommend you avoid the “canned hunting” of game farms, where you’re often guaranteed a kill. It’s not the authentic experience, and it could give your son the idea that you can always buy a winning outcome.
8. Playing with radio-controlled vehicles
If you haven’t considered a radio-controlled car, plane or boat, give one a go. You’ll probably find it easy to pick up and tough to stop -- it can be really addictive. Meanwhile, your son’s hand-eye coordination will be tested and improved while he practices teamwork and good sportsmanship around you and other RC hobbyists. Some of the most basic RC toys are really inexpensive and will give your son a fun introduction to the pastime. As he grows, the vehicles can grow with him, getting more challenging along the way.
9. Playing sports
The lessons he’ll learn include sportsmanship, coordination, discipline, and teamwork. It’ll all be lost on him, however, if you don’t set the standard yourself. It’s not about winning or losing for either of you; it’s about teaching the aforementioned skills while getting some exercise. Let your son have a say in which sport you choose to play. Forcing one on him will result in diminished returns; he won’t enjoy it as much and he’ll get less out of the whole experience.