5 Ways to Make a Difference for Your Son

According to recent research, boys in our country are “fragile.”

And this isn’t a new idea. Similar things have been written for almost the past 30 years.

When compared to girls, boys generally show much higher tendencies to struggle with issues such as: learning disorders, failure to finish high school, obesity, violence, stuttering, gambling and video game fixations, hyperactivity, and poor school performance—especially reading and writing skills.

Statistics show that, on today’s American college campuses there are six women for every four men, and similar education trends show up in elementary grades as well. The progress among girls and women in recent generations is worth celebrating, but something is lost when so many boys are struggling like this.

What causes this?

It’s surely a combination of complex factors. Some blame violence in (or simply the distractions of) media and entertainment. Some say it’s simply bad parenting. Some believe that, in our culture’s admirable efforts to improve opportunities for girls in the past few decades, we have forgotten the needs of boys. Some say that schools are underfunded and unprepared to address the challenges that boys face. The shortage of strong male role models in our culture can certainly be included in this list.

Dad, you probably know how your son is learning and growing in key areas of life. You’re likely aware of the areas where he may be “fragile.” The simple first step (which isn’t always easy) is to be more involved in his life. Start by spending more time with him, just having fun together. But let’s get a bit more practical.

5 Ways to Make a Difference for Your Son

Below are five suggestions, identified by our research, and some brief thoughts on each one. These are important for daughters, too, but they’re especially relevant for sons. For further reading, you can see a lot more on raising sons here.

Have a plan. What do you hope to accomplish with your son? Maybe he needs special attention and help with some academic challenge. Or there may be specific virtues you want to instill in him. Be intentional about how you’re investing your time and energy to help him grow in specific ways.

– Set an example. Be that solid reference point, that living lesson about what it means to be a man of character and reliability.

– Monitor his behavior. Let your son know you’re watching him, and you’re not going to stand by and allow him to disregard what’s best for him. You’re going to help him stay on track and avoid irresponsibility, laziness, and other pitfalls.

– Provide spiritual and moral guidance. Be sure he is very familiar with the values you hold dear: faith, generosity, service, respect for authority, and so on.

Show him love. This might be a challenge for some of you, but your son needs to know—through words and actions—how much he means to you. Don’t hesitate to show it!

What would you add, dad? What are some key ways you’re investing in your son? Share some tips and learn from other dads on our Facebook page.


  • Help your son develop his investigative abilities by asking him questions about everyday things: the moon, trees, cars, etc. Offer your help in finding the answers, if he needs it.
  • Help him think through the long-range consequences of choices he makes, like the friends he chooses, whether to take drugs, have sex, and other potential trouble areas.
  • Talk with your children’s mother about your kids’ development and what specific areas you might need to address with them during the next six months.
  • Make sure you’re nurturing your son’s interests in more “right-brained” pursuits like art, music and creative writing.

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There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.