The Wonder Years

In a study that’s sure to anger us dad bloggers, Niobi Way, a researcher and professor at New York University, found that the more a boy hangs out with his dad, the fewer high quality peer relationships they’ll have. Way, the author of Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, admits that this is contrary to popular (and logical) thought.

Way noted that “the quantitative data from studying hundreds of boys show that high-quality relationships with their moms predict high-quality relationships with their friends.” This surprisingly works hand-in-hand with Way’s thesis: boys are great at relationships and want to have them…until they reach adulthood.

In early to mid teen years, Way says, boys want and need their friends. By the later teen years, boys hit their peak and identify best friends whom they love. But by senior year of college, says Way, those feelings go unexpressed.

It’s important, no doubt, for sons to have great relationships with their fathers. But it’s also important for those sons to have many great relationships with their peers. “Way’s research links healthy, intimate friendships among boys with lower rates of bullying, better physical health, longer life spans, less drug and alcohol abuse and better academic performance,” says The San Antonio Express article linked below.

Here’s where we’ll take a shortcut. The San Antonio Express talks to other experts on the matter, but the main point is clear: if you’re a father, make sure you’re talking about emotions with your sons. Let them know it’s okay to love your friends. Tell them about your friends and why your relationships with them are deep – not just that you’re friends because they’re funny, or they like baseball just like you.

In a time when fathers are creeping out of the woodwork and more into the public eye, it’s time for us fathers to really knock psychology out of the park. Let’s make sure our kids are growing up happy and multi-dimensional! Put your macho, homophobic talk on ice and let your kid know that yes – you love your friends. Maybe it’s time to go through your old wedding photos and remind your kid why certain guys were chosen as your groomsmen. Maybe it’s time for a fathers-and-sons camping trip. If you go, invite us, because we’re dying to get out of the house.