Father and son relationship
Dear Ate Anna,
My father worked very hard and he was a good provider for our family. But when I was growing up, I didn’t have a very good relationship with him. I didn’t feel close to my father and we didn’t talk much. I was even afraid of my father, because whenever I misbehaved, my mom would say: “Wait till your father gets home!” Now, I have two sons and I don’t want to be like my father. I want to have a better relationship with my sons. Ate Anna, can you please give me some suggestions.
Ate Anna thinks that you are a committed father who wants to build a good relationship with your sons.
You mentioned that when you were growing up your father was a good provider. This used to be a father’s main role. But, in today’s world, children need a father for many things besides bringing home a pay cheque. Children also need their fathers to spend time with them, to love and care for them, and to guide and inspire them.
However, this is not to say that being a good provider is not important. It is still very important to meet the family’s needs for the necessities of life such as food, shelter and clothing.
Samuel, like any relationship, a father and son relationship needs nurturing to be strong.
Stay connected to your sons. Get to know them as individuals. Who are their friends? What are your sons’ favourite school subjects? What are their favourite television shows, singers, food, or sports? What are the things that your sons most dislike doing and what things do they like doing?
Talk and listen to them. Talk about their dreams, wishes and hopes. Encourage and motivate them to pursue their goals and aspirations. As well, share your dreams and hopes with them.
You can also share your hobbies or find a common interest with your sons – whether it is fishing, card games, basketball, karaoke, cycling, board games, or some other activity. Play and laugh together. This is a good way to build relationship. Your sons are not only having “fun” with you, but they are learning about life’s important lessons - fairness, perseverance, dignity, problem solving, and critical thinking.
In many families, like the one you grew up in, the father was often seen as the “bad” guy who punished the children when they misbehaved. (This might be the reason you were afraid of your father). Samuel, your sons need a father who disciplines and sets clear rules for them. But remember, discipline is not “punishment”. To discipline is to guide and give direction to your sons - show them what they have done wrong and teach them to be responsible. Do this by talking with your sons but not talking at them (ordering and lecturing) and letting them share their thoughts and feelings.
Also, don’t forget to let your sons know that you love them. Hug them or give them a pat on the back. Attend their activities to cheer for them. Say you are proud of your sons for whatever activities they are involved in – sports, music, school projects etc. Be available to them when they need you and let them know you are available to talk about anything.
In real life, many fathers are too busy with their work or they are juggling two or more jobs just to “make ends meet”. They may not have a lot of free time to do other things. But, Samuel, good relationships require an investment of time. It is important to find some time to spend with your children to help strengthen your father/son relationships.
Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments.
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