Everyone has their opinion what a father-son relationship is “supposed” to look like—spending time doing guy stuff like fishing, watching football and playing golf. While all of those are great, we came up with a unique list of fun family activities that every dad should do with his son at least once. See them all below. How many have you already checked off your list?
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. Have a dance-off.
Because dancing isn't just for girls.
3. 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.
4. Introduce him to "real" comedy.
Show your boys what “real” cartoons should look like by watching classic Bugs Bunny and Disney animation. 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.
5. 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.
6. Master the grill.
One of the rites of passage from childhood to adulthood includes learning how to cook food over a fire. When a kid becomes of age, learning when to take a burger off the heat before it becomes a hockey puck is priceless.
7. Visit an art museum.
Being able to appreciate culture is important for everyone. Show your son that being creative is just as important as being strong, competitive or brave.
8. Share the skill of sandcastle architecture.
Every kid should learn the art of knowing the right ratio of sand and water it takes to create the perfect columns for the majestic medieval fortress. And don’t forget the moat! Check out other ways to play in the sand with kids here.
9. Create wrestle-mania in the living room.
This one needs no instructions. Just be sure that you clear out the coffee table or anything sharp before you get tackled.
10. Cliff dive.
AKA—having your boy jump off the side of the pool into your arms, but for your kid’s first time, it might as well be a cliff.
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. Hit up the local skateboard park.
Help him master his ollies and kickflips, and you'll be even cooler.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
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. 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.
19. 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-like appearance.
20. 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. In order to help you out, Here's why chores are important for kids.
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. Take him to a concert.
Whether your son is in grade school or junior high, he's not too young to appreciate music. Take him to an age-appropriate music concert and sing—loudly. We promise he'll always remember the experience.
23. Find the coolest playground.
These days, you'll find more and more playgrounds able to withstand the occasional adult wanting to play along. Take advantage of the opportunity. Your son will have a blast.
24. 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.
25. Feed the birds, 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.
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. Get a haircut together.
Spend an afternoon "spiffing up" at a classic barbershop with your son.
29. 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.
Feature photo: iStock