for Dads of Sons
Life carries some significant milestones and rites of passage for a boy. In many ways, he is probably figuring out life and what it means to be a man by what he sees in his dad.
That puts some pressure on us, and it reveals a role that we need to step into. Because anyone could play catch with him in the back yard, teach him to drive and check the oil in his car, cheer him on at his games or performances, or try to help him understand the girls in his life. But there’s something different, something special about a boy learning these things from his father.
Dad, you are your son’s measuring stick for manhood. And there are many ways you can tell him, “I’m proud of the way you’re growing into a young man.”
Since we used to be boys, we often have a more natural companionship with our sons; we’re more alike, and we enjoy more of the same activities. Oddly enough, even though it’s easier for us to be with our sons, it’s still too often a distant relationship. But don’t settle for that! Do all you can to build a strong connection and invest strategically in his future.
How can you do that? This section of fathers.com is all about helping you answer that question. And truly, there are dozens of good suggestions for dads of sons. Our archive of articles below will go a long way toward helping you. Here are a few tips to get you started.
First and foremost, sons (as well as daughters) benefit from our love and affirmation. We need to affirm them physically, with hugs and pats on the shoulder, and verbally, where we’re comfortable saying “I love you,” as well as “I’m proud of you,” “It’s a joy to be your dad,” and anything else that can build up and bless our sons. Many men have never heard those words from their fathers, and it haunts them to think about what they missed out on. Let’s make sure our sons know without a doubt that we love and appreciate them for who they are. Even when we need to confront bad behavior and hold our sons accountable, we can do it in an atmosphere of love, where we’re building them up, not tearing them down.
Additionally, we dads can play a vital role in nurturing curiosity and directing them toward good. Boys tend to have strong investigative tendencies, and we can challenge them by asking lots of questions and exposing them to problem-solving situations. They grow in aptitudes and in confidence as they learn to find solutions on their own. Of course, they also need protection from curiosities in dangerous areas—like sex, drugs, alcohol, and such. So we can help guide them away from unhealthy behaviors while encouraging them toward pursuits where they can help people and make a difference in the world.
Through it all, we need to be reliable models of healthy manhood. Do our actions reinforce what we’re teaching our sons, or do they see areas where we’re inconsistent? Few things can do more damage to our efforts with our sons than failing to live out what we claim to believe in. Do we demonstrate respect and care for women—especially the ones in our family? Do we model healthy emotions and avoid outbursts of anger? Are we showing our sons what it means to have a balanced life, keeping the right perspective on work, hobbies, and leisure pursuits in relation to family and other priorities?
Dads, enjoy your sons. Show interest in what they like even if it means you have to stretch a bit. Find a hobby, sport or activity that you can call “our thing”—something that can be a point of connection for you through the years. Continue making daily investments in your son, building him into a young man of character and strength. It’s a high calling, but you’re up to the task. You can help lead and inspire your son to do extraordinary things.
For more, here are some featured articles about raising your son—and there are many more listed below as well.
8 Ways Dads Benefit Boys by Byron Ricks
5 Things Your Son Wants to Tell You by Steven Cessario
The Roadmap to Manhood: 5 Essentials for Raising a Teenage Boy by Mike McCormick
Raising Honorable Sons: 5 Important Keys by Rick Johnson
Recent Articles For Dads of Sons
Countless studies have shown that growing up with a father increases boys' school performance and decreases their risk of committing a crime and abusing drugs and alcohol. Here are eight more ways dads influence boys—whether they live in the home or stay involved on a regular basis.
If you have fathered a son, you influence how he ultimately comes to define himself as a man. The image he carries of you in his soul will in some way guide his steps. He may follow in your footsteps, intentionally choose a different path, or journey through a wilderness of ambivalent feelings concerning your relationship.
“Today’s men are obsessed with money, greed and sex. We will talk about the first two, somewhat, but the last one we avoid.” So writes author Archie Wortham. Wortham believes dads need to talk to other men about the challenges they have faced or are facing as men, then they’ll be better prepared to help their sons mature.”
In a 2006 article, Orlando Sentinel columnist Kathleen Parker addressed America's "boy crisis." Many have recently drawn attention to statistics showing that boys are falling behind in school performance. Parker responded to a recent study which concluded that the problem is really more about class and race, since the problem is most severe in Hispanic, African American, and poor communities.
A deluge of recent studies makes it clear that boys are vulnerable. They are falling behind in many key areas: SAT scores, reading proficiency and college attendance; and moving ahead in some undesirable statistics: emotional disturbance, school dropout and suicide rate.
Some moments you and your son will remember forever.
You're out in the country with your fourteen-year-old son, coming back from someone's house. You pull the car over to the side of the deserted dirt road and turn off the ignition. "Dad, what's going on?" your son asks.
According to recent research, boys in our country are "fragile." 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.
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.
So it’s time for you to sit down and have a face-to-face chat with your teenage son. Actually, there might be a better option.
The public service announcements on television make it sound like the best approach is to just start a conversation about drugs or alcohol at the breakfast table. But most teenagers would just roll their eyes—and probably tune you out.
The greatest gift a nurturing father gives his sons is a healthy model of what it means to be a boy, a man, and a father. Boys and girls both need their father's affection. But with boys it may be harder for dads to openly show it, even those fathers and sons who spend lots of companionship time together.