father son activities

7 Father-Son Activities You Must Do Before He Graduates

My dad worked in sales and traveled quite a bit. He would be on a trip for a week sometimes two at a time. Many times he would return home and complain. I used to think being on the road would be awesome. Other than missing the family, which I understood as being a big deal, the rest I thought must be great. Traveling to different places, meeting new people, staying in hotel rooms, eating out. I even imagined the driving was cool and exciting.

When I was a senior in high school, there were a bunch of colleges I wanted to visit. Fortunately, most of those colleges were in my dad’s sales territory. So we combined the two and I hit the road with him. I’ll never forget the views of the Virginia mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway or how much fun it was to be with my dad. However, the thing I remember most of all was how long and tiring the days were for him. Outwardly he was upbeat, but I could see the wear and tear. I could see the sacrifice he was making to provide for our family. It was a chance to be in his world for a couple of days and see firsthand what it was like. I understood him more. It was actually a gift to me. My empathy grew, and when he spoke, my ears were a little more attentive.

Experiencing things like that together build a deeper relationship. They give us opportunities for real talk. As fathers, they give us the right to be heard. When they graduate high school, they will leave our day-to-day influence and there is a lot to say before then. Here are 7 father-son activities you must do with your son before he graduates.

1. A College Tour

This is a major step for his future. Be there with him as he sets his eyes on where his home will be when he moves out. Help him think through it. Time in the car and in hotel rooms will give you the opportunity to talk. It will also facilitate discussing the emotions (fear, excitement, sadness, happiness) that he is feeling about this next step in his life.

2. An Adventure Trip

All boys are looking for an adventure. Bear Grylls hosts a show called Running Wild where he takes celebrities on a 48-hour adventure. One episode featured Ed Helms from the show The Office who was afraid of heights. One of the first things Grylls had him do was rappel down a 400-foot cliff. After accomplishing it, Helms got emotional. Grylls relayed the tales of World War I survivors who said that the men who cried before battle were the ones who acted the most heroic because they were facing their fears. Give him a trip where you both face fears and accomplish something difficult. Just don’t do anything dangerous without an expert or proper training.

3. Something Special Involving His Greatest Interest

Planning something special for your son that solely focuses on his interests is a pure display of love. [Tweet This] It will show him how interested in him you are because you took the time to know what he likes and jump into it with him. If he loves baseball, plan a trip to Cooperstown. If he loves movies, maybe you get a projector and have a marathon of his favorites or go big with a trip to Hollywood.

4. A Manhood Blessing Ceremony

Boys need to be told when they have moved from boyhood into manhood. There’s no one better to do that than their father. It’s important to mark this rite of passage with some sort of ceremony. This will give you an idea of how to do it.

5. A Service Project

Teach him the value of how to serve others by doing a service project together. It will make him more aware of the needs of others and grow selflessness.

6. Cook a Meal for the Family

Before he heads off on his own, he needs to learn how to cook for himself. However, it also gives him insight into caring for the entire family. Prepare a meal together. Then give him the assignment to come up with a meal for the family and execute it.

7. A Major Purchase

Involve him in something big you are going to buy. It could be a TV, car, or even a house. Invite him into the process, ask his opinion, and have him help you research. It’s important for him to see how you think about money with major purchases. It will give him confidence when it is his turn by himself.

Sound Off

What would you like to do with your son before he graduates?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Paul_Sp

    Good ideas, but some may not be affordable for some of us dad’s, let alone trying to do them all.

    • Jim Hawkins

      Would argue Paul that all of these can be done within a budget and not move beyond “the normal costs” of life. Really the only cost is time – which yes, can be a struggle but doable if a priority. I took a week-long canoe trip in the back country with my oldest son a while back. borrowed the canoe, only cost was gas and food (which was about $100 – if we had caught more fish it would have been less). In the process of an adventure (which doesnt have to be backcountry could be a road trip where your teenager does the navigation / drives or you just spend time planning together) you can do a blessing ceremony someplace special. its about investing time dont you think? one-on-one without distractions.

      • Paul_Sp

        You can argue that, but the first two especially may be out of reach for some dads. Or you may not be in a position to make a major purchase before he graduates HS.
        Just because your trip satisfied you both and was quite affordable doesn’t mean that can be true for all dads.
        Still fine suggestions though.

        Though I’m not sure how I would do a “blessing ceremony” that wouldn’t seem awkward or odd to my son.

        And yes, the investment of time and interest is important of course.

        • BJ_Foster

          I am someone who lives within a very tight budget and experiences buyers remorse over a pack of gum. These are doable like Jim says. I did not intend for all of these to be done in one year. They could be stretched over his high school or perhaps even include middle school years. At some point in that six year period, these days, a family will most likely purchase a new TV or computer. It doesn’t have to be a car or house, it can be smaller.

  • Something to consider (and what we’re doing at least this spring-and maybe more through the HS years) is a student mission trip. If its planned right with fundraising, the cost can be in fact very little. With an unbeleiveable and unforgettable experience for both of us.

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Huddle up with your son and ask, “What is one thing you’d like to do with me this year?”

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