Even though my father is gone from this life, the bonds between he and I still remain strong after almost 50 years because he made sure I felt loved. My dad would come home from work and I would run to greet him as he came through the front door. Wearing a gasoline delivery uniform and a beaming smile, he would kneel down as I buried my face in the deep folds of his green jacket, his strong arms gently embracing me. I can still remember the scent of pipe tobacco and gasoline combining together. They say aroma is one of the strongest memory triggers and to this day if I smell gasoline or Borkum Riff® pipe tobacco, I am immediately transported back in time to the magic of that pleasant memory.
One thing my father knew well was how to show his family that he cared. That single aspect of the father and son relationship is perhaps the most important aspect in how a father and son work together. When we were just young children, my six-foot four-inch Army Airborne dad could handle us with the utmost care, gentleness, and loving kindness. When we became older, my brothers and I began to see his more serious side. He was loving but strict and we respected him for it. The relationship he developed with us when we were young set the pattern for our relationship later in life. So how do young fathers and sons develop a relationship that will remain strong? Here are some helpful tips:
Relationship Now Determines Relationship Later
Every day is an opportunity to build a positive relationship or negative relationship with your son. You must understand this critical fact: your young son idolizes you. He probably thinks you are some sort of hero. He has placed you on the highest of pedestals. Build and reinforce that perception at every opportunity. Your son needs you to be his hero, to be the one person he can always rely on, the one guy he can go to no matter what. If you reinforce his perception of you as hero now, it will lay the foundation for a strong and beautiful relationship in the future.
Your Words Matter. Choose Them Carefully
Some folks put a lot of faith in the old saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s a load of crap. Words matter and words can be used to destroy or to build up a person. Sometimes it’s not even the words but the tone in which they are said. My dad loved me and he told me often. He knew these were words that would build me up. Before you open your mouth to speak, please consider the effect your words will have on that little boy who idolizes you. Choose your words carefully and make sure you are building up your son, not tearing him down.
Above All, Make Sure They Know How You Feel
In one family I know, the father and sons kiss one another when they get together, or when they are separating. When I first saw this unusual act between a father and his sons, I was a bit surprised. As close as I was to my own dad, we stopped kissing after I had reached 13 or 14 years. As I became closer to this family over the years, this father now includes me among his sons. And yes, I get a kiss, too. As odd as it was the first few times I have grown to like it and even expect it from him. This unusual act is his way of telling me I am loved, and he reassures me every time we meet. I know how he feels about me.
OK, so this is a pretty big deal and you’re just a mere man. You’re going to make mistakes and your son will see some of those mistakes. So what then? This is where your character comes into play. Act like he were watching your every move. Speak as if he were hearing every word. Love your son as if this were your last day together. And when you make a mistake, own up to it, deal with it, and move on. Looking back on my relationship with my own father, I see these as being the most important things you can do to build and keep a lasting father and son relationship.
The Connection Between Father and Son
Father Son Relationships: Learning About My Father