by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

Sometimes—especially with sons—you have to “play hardball.” If you’re a father of boys, you have my prayers. They’ll make you proud, but they also may make you crazy.

One of the key areas you need to address with your sons is their aggressiveness. I saw it in my sons and in other boys in the neighborhood. I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not, but they tried to push people around to get what they want. Sometimes it was physical, sometimes it was verbal, and sometimes it’s expressed through a determined or stubborn will.

It’s a guy thing, right? “Boys will be boys.”

That’s true. But they need a dad there to reel them in. I’ve seen a tendency in my sons and others to show disrespect—especially to women. Sometimes they tried to manipulate their mother, or show disrespect for female teachers; they weren’t always sensitive to their sisters.

You might say they liked to “play hard ball” to get their way. You can see this kind of behavior completely out of control when you look at gang activity in our cities.

Dads, we must teach our sons at an early age that we’re not going to allow that kind of behavior. We have to show them that … we can play hard ball, too.

Now I want to make it clear: it’s never right for a dad to physically abuse children. Knocking them around the room never brings about positive results. That’s not what I mean by “hard ball.”

What I mean is doing what’s necessary to help them learn to control their aggressiveness. They need to know that you’re going to confront them about their actions. That means discipline, if necessary, carried out in an atmosphere of acceptance and love.

My wife Dee would tell me there was a distinct difference between my sons’ behavior when she reprimanded them as opposed to when I laid down the law. They knew I played hard ball.

We fathers can’t just let our sons go off on their own. We have to shoulder the responsibility of raising responsible, respectful sons … today.

Your wife will thank you. Your daughters will thank you. Your sons’ teachers will thank you. And, some day, your son’s wife and children will thank you.

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