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Ways in Which Fathers Can Connect With Teenage Sons

Long shot in starting this thread here, but if I get any replies I guess it will be worth it.

I have a 15 year old son who would be, if he tried, gifted athletically (as a goalie or defense in soccer, or even football if he ever tried it, which he has not because his school does not have it). His father, my ex-husband, was a great athlete, mostly in basketball, but really in everything he tried. He (my ex) has a very hard time with the fact that his son doesn’t show athletic ambition, even though he actually does have the inclination. Our daughter is also very athletic, but she’s involved in other solo passions that take up all of her time (art, equestrian).

Today, after some parent/teacher conferences I was asked to attend, after the first quarter, it was reiterated to me (no surprise) that my son is not working up to his potential and is showing extreme apathy with school and life in general. The main reason for this is social stuff…..his best friends left his private school, he has a couple close friends who are supposedly leaving next year, and he is just "done." (He and I had a great talk about this stuff this afternoon and I really feel like things are going in a good direction).

I emailed my ex today to tell him I was called to these conferences and to tell him the results. (Why they asked the mom and not the dad? No clue). My ex, his father, has expressed his frustration that he has tried to connect with our son, but has no clue how to do it. He emailed me tonight that he wishes he "could connect with him on something." My ex and my daughter are very close. They’ve connected over the horse he bought for her, the upkeep of the horse, etc. And my daughter is just more "outdoorsy." My ex and my son just have trouble connecting.

Any advice? My son needs a passion (we actually talked about this today, he and I), and his father desperately wants to connect with his son.

TL; DR: My son’s father wants to try to connect with him when he feels they have nothing in common. Are there any fathers here who have successfully done this?

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