Male bonding starts with father and son. I'ts so much easier from birth till those teenage years when they start to sprout wings and fly. Catching them before they leave behind an empty nest sets a tradition for life. Children learn from what they observe. From birth till they find their own feet and start asserting their personality, all they want and need is your love, time and protection. Time and being present in that time is the most valuable gift you can give anyone.
In this age group, there's a plethora of activities that range from being with them at playgroup (for stay at home dads) to seeing them through the kindergarten, primary and high school years. Taking every opportunity to bond always includes taking an interest in what they're doing and being involved to support them in their endeavours and homework, teaching them but letting them work it out themselves. All this and every opportunity can be turned into bonding activities that only strengthens the relationship.
After school, weekend and holiday downtime can range from being an active participating parent in playground activities, beach holiday games, camping activities, fishing trips, sporting activities and so on. Knowing their passion and what they like is the key that turns the lock on choosing the right activities.
There are local councils and community activities, many of them running free events. Being involved and having a range of interests helps develop a sense of identity and connection, not to mention skills, being part of a team, being a team player, self confidence, mental health and wellbeing. A core strength every parent wants for their child, so they may fly strongly in this world.
Sometimes, with the older teenager closer to 20 than 13, it becomes a game of 'catch me if you can'. They have their own activities and interests and as a dad, you have to be conscious of slotting in and grabbing a bit of bonding time on a not too often but regular basis. Once you're over 18, there's a lot out there, be it for father and son or for young male adult mates to do together. The computer or smart phones assure that you've got the information highway at your fingertips. Not only can you search out best eateries, bars, nightclubs, beaches, special events, festivals (food and wine, movies and more), theatre shows etc. but it'll even tell you how to get there.
Participating in an activity together helps you discover each other as adults and individuals and reinforces relationships. Aside from leisurely pursuits and traditional team sports, there's a lot of other activities, including fun sporting ones for the fit males to participate in together. Fitness fun events like Tough Mudder and the Spartan Race are the popular choices of many, but there are also other serious fitness events like Ironman; Mountain Bike Racing, and such like. Why not go all the way and reach for a star event like being together for an adventure on The Amazing Race, or become a blockhead on The Block. If your passion is cooking, there's always My Kitchen Rules.
The tried and true activities have to be travel, be it to see your own country or the world together, having a quick road trip or a weekend away fishing, snorkelling, surfing, skiing, camping and many other loftier pursuits like hot air ballooning for breakfast. Be it catching a show or a beautiful meal together or simply having a bbq in the back yard, it all amounts to quality time spent together that keeps you connected.
It's not about the money spent as there are many an affordable and free events available, and we happen to live in a lucky country with a diverse range of activities to try, including learning about our own indigenous people through activities and heritage walks. The Shrine of Remembrance is a good place with a range of activities and exhibitions, many for a gold coin donation to learn about our heritage. For something a little different and fun for instance, you can be part of the audience of popular Melbourne television shows like The Project and Family Feud. There are also a variety of free interesting talks at the Acmi at Federation square every Friday where you can soak up some creative mind fuel.
The number of activities available to you are only limited by your imagination. The internet highway is littered with things you can do for a good male bonding day or night out. From paint balling; escape rooms to ghost tours that'll frighten the bejesus out of you, it's all there for the taking. All you need to do is pick your butt up, pack your sense of adventure, and go forth to conquer.