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 display of love.Planning something special for your son that solely focuses on his interests is a pure display of love. 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.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your son and ask, “What is one thing you’d like to do with me this year?”