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How I Stay Connected With My Dad, According to 11 Men

Maintaining a connection with your dad can become difficult as the days pass and schedules fill up. Here's how eleven men keep it alive.

Ippei Naoi for Getty Images

Spending time with your old man is something that should be prioritized. But this is always easier said than done, isn’t it? If you get along — and for many that can be a big if — time is often a factor. So, too, is finding something to do together because sitting around only works for so long. And finding connection within that time? Well, that can be even harder because priorities change and shared interests are sometimes difficult to find. But despite the hurdles, hanging out with your dad, asking him questions, learning from him, and enjoying his presence is vital — and something you won’t be able to do forever.

To that end, we asked a variety of men how they find the time to connect with their father now that they are fathers themselves. Some spoke of watching sports or regularly meeting at a favorite restaurant, others of a shared love of yard work or a simple exchange of movie quotes. Whether the way they connect is big or small, all of them have worked hard to maintain a connection with their father and, through that, a more complete relationship. That’s something to which we should all aspire. Here’s what they said.

1. We Shoot Archery

“My dad and I are very close. Despite my busy schedule, I always find time to drop by my parents’ house every week. One thing my dad and I connect through is archery. We’re both very into it, so we have a weekly archery contest and whoever loses has to buy dinner for the whole family to share. After the dinner, my dad and I will usually play chess, have tea, and share hilarious experiences about our lives. We’ve had to have conversations virtually recently, but I still look forward to our archery matches.” – Tim, 26, California

2. We Meet Up For Sushi

“My father and I have gotten very close since I moved back home. We live about 30 minutes away from each other and meet for lunch or dinner once a week. We both love sushi, and we have a specific sushi place that we always meet at. The food is great but, more importantly, the time together allows for us to reconnect and get to know the new people that we have become.” – Ricky, 25, Florida

3. We Go on Picnics

“My father is a picnic lover. So we try to plan at least one picnic per month. We enjoy the time a lot, and my father seems so happy during our picnics that I don’t want them to end. We talked a lot about my career ambitions — I’ve gone into a food-related field — and our conversations have evolved over time. Initially, he was disturbed and nervous. He was worried about my finances, my success, and my ability to make it work. In fact, some picnics were spent with him scolding me. But I believed that the field would be fulfilling, so I went for it. Lately my dad has started to celebrate my happiness in my work, which has made our time together even more enjoyable.” – Timothy, 41, Florida

4. We Talk About Medicine

“I’m a pharmacist, and my dad calls me regularly just to talk. Most times, he’ll ask me a health or science question that has stumped his physician. Or just something he wants to learn more about. If I don’t know, we look it up together. It’s almost like a treasure hunt. I couldn’t find work in my hometown, so I look very forward to his calls. He’s helped me get where I am, and never once gave up on me. I’ve planned so many visits that have been delayed by COVID, but this tradition has given us each something to bond over.” – Benjamin, 40, Texas

5. We Bond Over Comics and the MCU

“I’ll never forget the day my dad showed me his comic book collection. I was into comic books, and I knew he had them, but it was unbelievable. He had so many that I’d heard about, or seen in pictures, but never got to read. And he let me. Fast forward to today, and we’re both total fanboys of anything MCU. When Endgame came out, I think he was more excited than I was. And all the movies before that, I think we saw each one on its opening weekend, if not its actual opening night.” – Hector, 39, Pennsylvania

6. We Text Movie Quotes

“My dad finally got an iPhone like a year ago so he’s literally just started texting. The first few texts were short. ‘Hi.’ ‘Love you.’ Stuff like that. Then, one day, he texted me ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last!’ For those who don’t know, that’s a quote from Talladega Nights, and it cracked me up. We kept going back and forth with that movie, The Godfather, Christmas Vacation, Ghostbusters – all movies that we’ve watched together and loved. The other day I texted him, ‘I’m the Magic Man. Now you see me…now you don’t!’ That’s another Talladega Nights. He responded right away with, ‘Abracadabra, holmes.’ I can’t overstate how much I love that we do this.” – Shane, 40, Ohio

7. We Listen to the Police Scanner

“My dad is an avid listener to his police radio scanner, and whenever something ‘exciting’ comes on he gives me a call and we can listen to it together. Last night, for example, I was painting the house when I got a call. A man had been running from the police for over an hour and they still hadn’t caught him. I listened over the next half hour as this man fled over highway footbridges, through a stream and backyards, knocked on a woman’s door and used her phone briefly, and then was ultimately brought down in a school by the police dogs. It’s all in real-time and dad helps to interpret a lot of the call signs and other shorthands used on the police radio. It’s our way of bonding and getting to experience the excitement of a police chase together, while we live about an hour’s drive apart.” – Dan, 35, Dunedin, New Zealand

8. We Bond Over All Things Detroit

“When I was a kid, my dad always included me in his favorite activities which included Detroit Lions football, Detroit Tigers baseball, an interest in old cars, and working on automobiles. Today we share a deep bond that includes watching and attending Detroit sports events together, and long discussions about the states of our teams. We also attend car shows, and Dad has been an incredible help to me in working on my 1965 Mustang. Recently, we’ve also restored a 1923 Ford Model TT truck together. Dad and I can talk about anything, and even if we don’t always agree we respect each other’s views, we always make time for each other.” – Don, 64, Ohio

9. We Started a Website

“My dad and I both love the outdoors. So much so that we created a website dedicated to our passion. I am originally from France, and I know it can be tough to stay connected with loved ones when you’re living in a different time zone or country. So, when we video call each other —usually 2-3 times per week — we talk about our website. We hold each other accountable, and truly work on the project together. When I work on a new piece of content, I will always ask him about his point of view and experience. Involving my dad in the development of this project was important to me, even though we live apart. Despite being retired, he stays pretty active and loves to be busy.” – Julien, 39, Montréal, Canada

10. We Work in the Yard Together

“My dad is a classic dad when it comes to mowing and having a nice-looking lawn. And, for the better, I’ve inherited his love of and pride in yard work. So, during the spring and summer, we spend almost every weekend doing some sort of project in one of our yards. Last year, we built a fountain/waterfall thing at my parents’ house. We also dug out a few bushes and stumps to make our yard look better. There’s something about being outside, getting dirty, taking breaks and talking, then getting back to work that we both just really enjoy. My son hasn’t really gotten into it yet, but that’s okay. I’m glad our love for landscaping is something my dad and I can share to stay connected.” – Ryan, 38, Indiana

11. We Bond Over Animals

“My dad was raised in a farmhouse, so he’s always had an appreciation for nature. When I was little, he used to teach me about all the animals around our house. Nothing exotic, just birds, chipmunks, squirrels…stuff like that. But occasionally, we’d see something rare. Like a 12-point buck. Or a mink. And we’d get so excited. Now that I’m grown, we still call each other every time we see something uncommon in nature. He recently called me about an owl that perched on his fence for a night. And I told him about a red fox that we caught on our video doorbell. He’s told me he gets excited when he sees my name pop up on his phone because he knows he’s going to hear an animal story. I definitely feel the same way, and it’s a special connection we share.” – Christopher, 41, Ohio