Most of us can agree that it’s important for fathers to have strong relationships with their sons (as well as all of their children, regardless of gender, of course). But in a world consumed by toxic masculinity, it can be difficult to actually foster that bond. Society expects "men to be men," meaning they're generally expected to be "tough," emotionless, and to avoid physical affection. Culturally speaking, men are often forced into these roles of stoicism whether they like it or not, which is why it’s so important to encourage father and son relationships.
As moms, we're often expected to spend more time with our children than our male partners. Even in the most enlightened of relationships, where two hetero, cisgender parents are working to equally divide parenting responsibilities, moms are often the default parent responsible for taking care of the child's immediate and basic needs. She's the one going on field trips, showing up at PTA meetings, taking time off work when her child is sick, and attending pediatrician appointments. Her plate is not only full, but heavily stacked with family responsibilities, which can hinder bonding opportunities for fathers, who are often considered to be secondary parents.
It's important that everyone, not just moms, support men who do what they can to have honest and open conversations with their sons, and who are willing to do the emotional labor that so often only burdens mothers. But more often than not that support does start at home. So how can we help the fathers and sons in our lives move past a toxic culture and truly bond? Here’s some ideas: