We often feel our children need everything from us.
But there’s a balance at play.
However, the following 10 things bring us to a solid start of raising a son both you and his mother can be proud of…
Ultimately, your job is to make sure that eventually, there will be nothing your son will need from you (other than love).
Some parents create a toxic culture of dependency where even prospective employers and or universities are contacted by mom and dad. They try to make up for their child’s unimpressive interview, poor work ethic, low grades, or subpar resume to pressure the hire or acceptance. Some parents with the means will even attempt to make their own rules for their son and pay their way for him to be accepted instead of teaching him about the importance of failure and disappointment.
Our job is not only to raise our children in love and security but to also make sure they are well equipped to make it on their own once the time comes.
In order to accomplish that goal, here are 10 things your son needs from you:
1. Be There.
Your son needs you to be there. Your son needs quantity, not just quality playtime with his dad. He needs you to show up to school conferences, soccer games, church events, and mealtimes. Mealtimes are especially crucial to child development, and your son needs his dad [meal time can be the best time to ascertain how he is really doing in school, with friends, and emotionally and this is an excellent time to review proud statements e.g. I am proud of you because…]. He needs to watch you treat your spouse right, to watch you make decisions, to observe how you value the right things…
It’s a cliché that what all men want, ultimately, is respect. An easy way to do this is to ask your son in what ways have you as father demonstrated respect to him and vice versa in a given week. Try this today when you talk to your son and see if you can each identify 3 ways.
One way to earn respect is to show responsibility. A behavior and accountability contract can outline what specific responsibilities and behaviors are expected and subsequently what freedoms does he earn as a result of complying with the contract. He can’t do this without your help, your coaching, and your high expectations.
Trust is a result of responsibility. This is how you show your son you believe in him. Don’t badger, expect. Trust happens between accepted equals and responsible behavior.
There is more freedom within a relationship that has secure boundaries compared to one without. Obviously, boundaries vary with the child’s age and maturity. Again the family behavior/accountability contract can play an important role here. Input from all parties is covered and privacy boundaries are clearly conveyed as well as how those can be compromised if your son does not follow other elements of the behavioral contract [e.g. cell phone will be reviewed daily for inappropriate website or messaging use].
We’re not talking about stalking/spying on your son, checking up on him every instant or calling him to task for every detail. However, real world preparation must involve being accountable for your words and deeds, following through, and the understanding that every choice he makes is a potential learning opportunity. Unfortunately, in our day and time there are far too many examples of grown men who portray themselves as cowards and externalize blame on everyone else and their “perceived enemies” and thus it is more important than ever to hold ourselves to a high standard and demonstrate responsibility within the family unit!
Your son doesn’t need to simply know that you love him, he needs to feel it, see it in action, and understand that it’s as deep and wide as the universe. Love is the greatest source of strength either of you have. Embrace love; own it, practice it and tell him how you feel. This is modeling healthy behavior and teaching him how to be the kind of father he will want to be later in life. At the end of every day ask yourself, “how did I express my love to my son today?”
8. Affection and touch.
Too many men are confused about affection. They confuse distance with manliness and nothing could be further from the truth [the 20th century was all about affirming the cold, distant and uninvolved father]. My goal is to encourage fathers to recreate the paternal narrative that involves hugging, touching, expressing feelings and being emotionally available…So hug. Express your emotions. And, above all, don’t be afraid to say, “I love you” to your son. Don’t close him out from affection because of your own fear. Your son very much needs physical contact with his dad. A hand on the shoulder, hugs and embraces, and holding his hand when he’s younger. Physical touch is key to human development, from infancy on up. Your son needs your physical touch.
9. Advice on “Sex”
Your son needs your advice and guidance. He needs you to teach him about love and respect. He needs dad to tell and to show him how to treat other people especially his present and future partners. What is appropriate when it comes to romantic feelings about others? What is right and wrong? Your son needs you to talk to him about sex and you need to be ready and somewhat comfortable discussing this topic.
Your son needs your example. If you’ve been a poor/less than ideal role model, then he needs to hear you admit that and then he needs to see you find your way. He needs to have a dad around who he can look up to, model, admire and emulate despite your shortcomings or warts. Your son needs his dad to be his hero.
These are all valuable elements to integrate into your journey as a father to your son. I hope that you too as a dad will see the value in reaffirming and reassuring your son(s) that you will always be there and no one can take away your special bond…
Also see: 10 Things Your Son Needs From You
Always remember to tell your child (and yourself) the following each day:
- Believe in yourself
- Love yourself
- You were born for special reasons
- Look for ways to help others today
- Your primary purpose is to discover what your unique talents are (that no one else in the world has)