The father-son bond is not to be taken for granted. It can be nurtured or squelched as it changes over the course of the son's life, evolving as he grows and life has a bigger impact on him.

In early childhood, a son may look up to his father and idolize him, always trying to imitate him. By the time he is a teenager, though, he develops his own ideas about life and how he fits in it, pulling away and spending more time with friends. When he reaches adulthood, the son may begin to trust his father again as he realizes he may be right about things, setting the foundation for a lifetime of a meaningful relationship of mutual respect and affection.


It's what happens between now and then that determines how deep that bond can be—and affection is key to building that strong father-son relationship.

Affection is the glue that holds relationships together when times are tough. According to the Affection Exchange Theory, developed and tested by Dr. Kory Flyod at the University of Arizona, the more affection between people, the stronger their bonds.

Past research has established that the amount of affection fathers convey to their sons appears to be related to the amount of affection their own fathers gave to them. Some fathers report a sense of loss or grief when thinking about the relationship with their own fathers, as traditional fathering practices may not have fostered a high level of affection.

But fathers today seem to be adopting a role that is more open to affection and involvement with their own sons. In a study involving 139 father‐son pairs it was revealed that fathers felt closer to, were more satisfied with and expressed more affection with their sons than with their own fathers. These findings support the idea that fatherhood is in the midst of a cultural shift away from the authoritarian, emotionally-detached father role of the past and toward a more involved and nurturing dad.

So how do we keep that going? Here are some ways a father can build an affectionate bond with his son:

  • Show up: Show your son that no matter what, you will always be there for him. Whether it is being physically present at a soccer game, or a parent-teacher meeting, or being emotionally present with him while he tells you about his experience, just be there for him.
  • Find common ground: Discover what is fun for both of you, whether it is sports, cooking, reading… anything that you both enjoy can be shared and become the foundation of your relationship.
  • Spend quality time together: Taking time to do activities together helps you to understand each other is the mortar in your foundation.
  • Listen to each other: Hear your son before giving your opinion. Be understanding and constructive about his choices so it isn't received as criticism.
  • Prioritize honesty: Telling your son like it is will convey respect and encourage him to reach out to you on the hard stuff.
  • Celebrate accomplishments: Recognition and appreciation for your son helps him become more confident and courageous.
  • Share your experiences: Impart the wisdom your life experiences with your son to make him feel important and that you trust him.

Bottom line: An affectionate father can provide the strong shoulders a son stands on to see how to be the change he wants to see in the world.

Editor's note: Though this is written from the perspective of a husband and wife relationship, Motherly understands that there many structures of family that exist, and single fathers have supportive relationships that may apply in this narrative.

Baby's first birthday is right around the corner—how did that happen? It's understandable if you are feeling all the emotions right now. This is a major milestone for both of you, so while you're planning a celebration for your little one, you should also take this moment to applaud your accomplishments during this past year.

One year ago, you were probably daydreaming about these moments… and possibly slightly nervous about how you would manage. Look at you now, mama! But take a deep breath, because life is about to get even more exciting as your sweet little baby enters toddlerhood!

Here are a few of our favorite items for babies and mamas at the 11-month mark:

To cheer on first steps: Bright Starts rolling monkey

Bright Starts

It takes a lot of strength to get those little legs walking for the first time! Keep your baby encouraged as they gain stability with a new toy to chase down.


For mess-free snacking: Munchkin snack catcher

Munchkin Snack Catcher

As your baby begins to work on supervised self-feeding, you'll start to find crumbs everywhere. That's why training snack cups are so brilliant: They prevent them from dumping all those snacks at once.


For the first cake-cutting: Creative Converting first birthday party hat

birthday hat

Get your camera ready for that first birthday! Sure, the party hat may only stay on your toddler's head for a few minutes, but the pictures will be around to cherish for a lifetime.


For those fine motor skills: Lamaze sorting toy

Lamaze toy

The fine motor development your baby is working on today will help with everything from playing instruments to writing with pencils and so much more later in life. Believe it or not, a simple sorting toy will help boost these foundational skills.


For breastfeeding support: Honest Mama nip balm

Honest nip balm

If you are on a breastfeeding journey with your growing babe, you two probably are in a pretty good rhythm—but your tatas still deserve some TLC.


For simple beauty touch-ups: Honest Beauty magic balm

Honest Beauty

It can still feel hard to find a spare moment for yourself throughout the day, but it also feels good to keep up with a beauty routine that is heavy on the self-care element. Enter: An incredible multi-purpose balm that can hydrate your lips, soothe cracked skin, tame flyaways and more.


For whatever life throws at you: All In Motion anorak jacket

All in Motion

Motherhood is all about multitasking, and your clothing should be able to take you from one activity to the next. Thankfully, the amazingly stylish activewear on the market right now means you can feel good about a wardrobe stable that is able to multitask, too.


For baby’s first cake: KitchenAid hand mixer

Kitchen Aid

If you've been pinning ideas for that first birthday cake since you gave birth, make those dreams a reality with an upgraded mixer you can use throughout the years. Not much of a baker? Visit Target Bakery for a free smash cake with the purchase of a specialty cake!


For chasing that active baby: C9 Champion women’s knit sneakers

Champion Sneakers

You might be surprised by how quickly your toddling baby turns into a running baby. So lace up those shoes, mama!


For your favorite photos: Project 62 wire clip collage

Project 62

How many pictures have you taken in the past year? We're betting it's a pretty high number, and at least a few of those deserve to be displayed in your home. Make it easy to swap them out with a frame that allows you to display multiple pictures at once.


This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.


The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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