In June, take a walk down the greeting card aisle, and you’ll see Father’s Day cards with images of how fathers and sons relationships are “supposed” to look—spending time doing things like fishing, hunting and watching football. While all of those are great, they don’t exactly tell the whole story. We came up with 25 things that every dad should do with their son at least once. Keep reading to see them all.

photo: Scott Sherrill-Mix via Flickr

1. Take a selfie.
Why? Why not? You’re having a good time with your boy, and you might as well document it. Plus, when he’s older, you can always use the photos as collateral.

2. Play with LEGO (with no instructions).
LEGO just might be the best toy ever created. Get on the floor with your boys and just start building. When they ask, “What are you making?” tell them, “I don’t know. Let’s see what comes up.” Enjoy the freedom of building with no rules.

3. Introduce him to “real” comedy.
Show your boys what “real” cartoons should look like by watching classic Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes. If a cartoon doesn’t make you belly laugh, then the animators haven’t done their job correctly. While you’re at it, introduce your sons to one of the great comedy teams of all time—The 3 Stooges. If the material annoys your partner, all the better.

4. Build anything out of wood.
So, not every dad is a natural born handyman, but neither are your boys. Still, every boy should learn how to use simple hardware tools. If you don’t know where to begin, find a birdhouse kit or some other reasonable facsimile at your local home improvement store and learn together.

5. Master the grill.
One of the rites of passage from boyhood to adulthood includes learning how to make the ultimate hamburger and how to cook it over a fire. When a boy becomes of age, learning when to take a burger off the heat before it becomes a hockey puck is priceless.

photo: Scott Sherrill-Mix via Flickr

6. Share the skill of sandcastle architecture.
Every kid should learn the art of knowing what the right ratio of sand and water it takes to create the perfect columns to which you’ll need to make your majestic medieval fortress. And don’t forget the moat! Check out other ways to play in the sand with kids here.

7. Create Wrestle-Mania in the living room.
This one needs no instructions. Kids just instinctively know how to hop on pop. Just be sure that you clear out the coffee table or anything sharp before you get tackled.

8. Cliff dive.
Okay, actually were talking about having your boy jump off the side of the pool into your arms in the water, but for your kid’s first time, it might as well be a cliff. What a great way to show your son what trust is, and how you’ll always be there for him.

9. Do something nice for Mom just because.
Whether it’s picking out a small bunch of flowers at the grocery store or making breakfast in bed (or both), teaching your son how to surprise mom with simple gestures “just because” is a practical way to express unconditional love.

10. Show him the world doesn’t revolve around him. 
Nipping that “what’s in it for me?” attitude builds compassionate young men. Take your son to volunteer a shift at a local food bank or a simple project at a local parks department or church. Work on the task together, emphasize how you are helping others and how good that feels.

photo: Picsea on Unsplash

11. Share your favorite childhood book with him.
A favorite ritual for many kids is being tucked in bed with a good story. Reading the same “Happy Bunny” story over and over again can get old, but as your boy gets older, you’ll get to share with him some of your favorite stories from childhood.

12. Take the jogger stroller out for a run. 
It’s hard enough to find time to work out when you have a little one. Get a jogger stroller, and you can work in your run with the ultimate training partner.

13. Become a cookie master. 
Every boy should learn the fine art of Toll House cookie baking, and we’re not talking about the “slice and bake” cookie dough you find in the grocery store. Get out the recipe book out and make ‘em from scratch.

14. Spend time outdoors with him. 
Some boys just naturally gravitate toward the great outdoors, while others need to be nudged. Take your son out for short hike or take him out for a weekend camping trip. Take time to stop and look at the odd and unusual sites along the way. Show him that there is more to this world than just what he sees on the electronic screen.

15. Go to a water park or city pool. 
Playing in the water is great fun your young boys, and it’ll make you feel young again too. If a local water park is too expensive, try out a local city pool. Today, many are equipped with their own waterslides and splash pools at a fraction of the cost. Tell your son that you can’t leave until his hands take on a prune-y appearance.

photo: iDJ Photography via Flickr

16. Show him how to respect others.
Kids will naturally follow your lead when it comes to learning how to respect others, especially women. Watch how you talk to those around you, and they will too. As they get older, explain that everyone should be treated as equals and then lead by example.

17. Walk the dog together.
Too many of us have canine buddies at home that don’t get the exercise they need. Get the leash out and show junior how to take the reins.

18. Making cleaning a game. 
If your son won’t pick up his toys without getting distracted, make it a game. Challenge him to see how fast he can put away five items in the toy box, counting slowly as he gathers up stuff. Congratulate him, and be prepared to do it again, and again.

19. Take him to a concert.
Whether your boy is in grade school or an older junior higher, he’s never too young to appreciate music. Take him to an age-appropriate music concert (just you and him) and dance in the aisles as if no one is watching. You’ll probably embarrass him, but we promise he’ll always remember the experience.

20. Find the coolest playground.
More and more playgrounds are created to withstand the occasional adult wanting to play along too. Take advantage—your son will have a blast playing with you, and you’ll have fun too.

photo: Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

21. Play a board game.
Yes, they still make them, and they are just as much fun as you remember. Here’s a tip: Whoever wins, needs to put away the game—this can make losing a game a little less painful.

22. Go to the library together.
Believe it or not, kids are still “doing” books with real pages and everything. Even if he has tons of books at home, bring him to the library anyway to find out what else is cool right now. Introduce him to Dr. Seuss classics or bring home something new.

23. Feed the Bird, Ducks or Whatnot
There is something very empowering to little one when they know that they are in charge of divvying out snacks to the local wildlife.


24. Teach him how to shuffle cards. 
This is one of those skills that can be difficult to master but every boy should know how to shuffle cards whether he’s playing Crazy 8’s or UNO.

25. Watch all of the good Star Wars movies. 
Everyone has an opinion on what makes a good or bad “Star Wars” movie. We can’t help it. It’s in our DNA. Still, they really should learn from an expert.

—Jeff Totey

Feature photo: frank mckenna on Unsplash