“Mom! Watch me make this shot!” My son was constantly begging me. If it wasn’t watching him do some trick shot 30 times, it was playing a video game with him, or watching football with him. But I had a million other things to do. After all, I have endless chores and I don’t really want to play a video game.
So after telling him “no” several times in a row, I noticed that he started to misbehave. I’d become irritated, and then he would sulk or bug his sister. At bedtime, I would try to talk to him about his day, but he wouldn’t open up. Why was this our cycle? Why did I feel increasingly distant from him? Do you ever wonder how to get closer to your son when you feel so different? Here’s what he’s really seeking along with 4 ways to build intimacy in your relationship with him.
The Way They’re Wired
Boys have a built-in desire to build intimacy by sharing an activity with their companion, side-by-side. In other words, you get closer just by literally being next to him.
Boys have a built-in desire to build intimacy by sharing an activity with their companion, side-by-side.
Sociologist Harry Brod describes it this way: “Numerous studies have established that men are more likely to define emotional closeness as working or playing side-by-side, while women often view it as talking face-to-face. Men, for example, derive intimacy from playing and watching sports.”
There is amazing power in doing things side-by-side with your son in order to build intimacy, which in turn bolsters your relationship in every way. Here’s how.
1. PLAY with him.
This one’s not rocket science. If you want to know how to get closer to your son, it’s playtime. But guess what! He doesn’t care how well you toss the frisbee. And even if you fail every time in the video game, it can actually be more of a bonding experience as he “helps you” get through the level.
And don’t want to play or don’t have time? Try this: Say, “Can I watch you play?” Then watch for 10 minutes and comment on his successes!
Yes, you can actually bond with your son and get chores done at the same time. Make the bed with him, fold clothes together, or bathe the dog together. Here’s the key though: Tell him how helpful he is and watch his confidence soar. And use iMOM’s 10 Compliments for Your Son printable for more phrases to boost his self-esteem.
3. WATCH with him.
Watch a game or TV show where you can comment and laugh together while you watch. Don’t understand football? Like the video game, ask him questions and let him explain it to you. Or look for a show that you both enjoy watching. Make it “your show.”
4. SIT next to him.
It can literally be as simple as being in proximity to him, even if you are not talking. My son likes for me to read my own book while he reads his book, side-by-side. It seems strange, but he loves it. Or try sitting by him while eating an after-school snack. Don’t pummel him with questions (my tendency). Don’t force a conversation. He might talk, or he might not. Either way, consider it time well-spent.
It’s simple, and yet it might be just what he needs. Be on the lookout for opportunities to join him (or have him join you) side-by-side, whether it’s drying dishes or sitting on the patio with a Coke. A little bit here and there will go a long way!
What helps you get closer to your son?