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How Silly Videos Helped Me Make a Real Connection With My Son

"I’ve really been able to break through and engage with him in something that he loves to do."

fatherly logo Great Moments in Parenting

Welcome to “Great Moments in Parenting”, a new series where fathers explain a parenting hurdle they faced and the unique way they overcame it. Here, Ed, a 37-year-old personal trainer and father of two from Los Angeles, explains how he used his son’s obsession with YouTube into a bonding experience that allowed them to grow — and bond — more than ever before.

Being the average 9-year-old, my son is obsessed with watching content on YouTube. Think the episode of South Park wherein Ike and all his friends would rather watch YouTube videos of video games being played than actually play the video games themselves.

As any father would, I initially tried to bond with him over his newfound hobby by setting up his iPad to stream videos to the TV in the living room. I thought we could both watch and enjoy them. But, after a few nights of this, he declared it uncool and decided he’d rather watch them on his own. Crushed, I decided to try and connect on a different level, a more involved level. I decided it was time for us to make our own videos together.

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So for Christmas that year, I picked him up a GoPro and some slick video editing software and we began to make YouTube content.

I’ve really been able to break through and engage with him in something that he loves to do. We share a sense of humor now, and it’s even helped his confidence.

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    Not really We've always been a board game family.
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If he was into challenge videos that week, then we’d set one up. Let’s do an Odell Beckham Jr. Pie Face Challenge, wherein whoever catches the least amount of footballs passed to them gets a pie in the face. Food challenges? No problem. We even strapped our GoPro on and went jumping on the trampoline. We did it together. We bonded.

Our most recent “challenge” was really special. I called upon my years of Tae Kwon Do training and attempted to show him how I could break a brick with my bare hand. So I took him to the local hardware store and let him pick out whichever inch-thick slab of concrete he wanted. We took the brick home and set up what would become my greatest feat of dad strength, or the greatest old man pride fail of all time.

Long-story-short, my fist came down and the brick split cleanly in two. And the best part? My son can be overheard gasping, “OH MY GOSH!” as soon as the brick breaks. Impressing him was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever experienced.

In fact, I went to lunch with him not too long ago and he proudly announced, “This is my dad, he can break bricks! I saw him do it!!!” All the kids were visibly impressed, and my son was really proud.

This desire to be idiots together on YouTube really brought us closer. We don’t have a giant following or anything, but we’ve bonded like never before. Since the brick, we’ve gone on to plan several more challenges and videos that should be debuting soon.

It’s funny to think that something like this – YouTube – never existed until a relatively short time ago, but now it’s given me a great way to bond with my son. I’ve really been able to break through and engage with him in something that he loves to do. We share a sense of humor now, and it’s even helped his confidence. He used to be kind of shy, but now I see him speaking more freely and confidently in public and social situations. It’s really been a great bonding experience for both of us.

– As Told to Matt Christensen