7 Things Our Sons Need from Us
As dads we have a profound influence on the story that takes root in the hearts of our sons. Our boys look to us for guidance, wisdom, and the occasional wisecrack as they toil to pen their own life story and develop into the strong and caring men we know that they can become.
There is nothing quite like the relationship between a dad and his son, especially if this relationship has been intentionally nurtured and cared for as both of you grow through the seasons of life together. There will be many people who will have the opportunity to influence and leave their imprint upon the pages of your son’s life story as he grows. You are and should be your son’s most important role model and example of what it means to be a good person and an #epic man. He needs you.
Here’s a list of 7 things sons need from their dads:
1. He needs you to be present.
The pace of life, work, and family in today’s world can feel frantic. So many things pull at our attention and can distract us from being present and in the moment for one of our life’s most important missions – raising our kids. Our sons crave our attention and notice whether we’re engaged in watching their performance on the field/stage or staring at our phones answering one more work email. Our sons need our presence in their academic world, social life, and activities. There isn’t an area of their young lives where we can’t provide guidance and support and invest our presence to help them grow.
2. He needs your example.
Our sons will heed our powerful example about things such as how to treat the women in our lives, how to fulfill our responsibilities, how to treat the less fortunate and how to keep going even when the going gets tough. It is our example which will form the foundation for how he treats his own children one day. The influence of our example is an awesome responsibility and as dads we should wield this power with wisdom and care.
3. He needs you to play with him.
Our sons need us to continue to play with them, even as they grow and change from children into men. Don’t be afraid to wrestle, play games, throw the football around, race, be silly and laugh with your son. Through this our sons will learn to compete, handle victory and defeat, enjoy being close to you and feel your love for them in action. It is worth the effort on our part to put down the remote, get up off the couch after a busy day at work, and invest in our relationship with our sons through one of their favorite things to do – playing with their dad.
4. He needs you to talk to him.
Our sons need us to keep talking to them as they change and challenge us on their journey to manhood. They will go through times where they may feel like they can’t talk to us, or anyone, about the changes happening to their bodies, the feelings that they’re experiencing for the first time, or the questions they may have about life, love and the meaning of it all. It’s our job to wade into these opportunities for conversation and teaching with courage and the conviction that we can and must help guide our sons through conversation and connection about topics that are important to them.
5. He needs your affirmation.
Your words breathe inspiration into the heart of your son.
“You’re amazing”. “I’m so proud of you, son.” “I saw that fantastic play you made!” “You messed up, but I know that you’ll bounce back”.
Our sons need to hear from us that we love them, value them for who they are, and that we are in their corners. They also need to know that we love and value them for who they are and not because of what they do.
6. He needs your discipline and guidance in love.
Our sons will make mistakes. We made and make mistakes. Our sons need us to provide them with boundaries, guidance, and consequences when they do screw up. They will look to our reactions to learn that their actions have consequences. Disciplining our sons and enacting consequences that are appropriate and founded in love will help them think through the consequences of their actions and learn this foundational life skill. This isn’t always an easy or fun part of our roles as dad, but it is critical to our son’s development and success in life.
7. He needs you to help him know where he is on the path.
There are still cultures that use ceremony to signal to the community that their young men are passing important milestones on the journey to adult manhood. Our culture has lost respect for ceremony and tradition and it might be argued that we don’t give clear enough signals to our young around what it means and or takes to be accepted as an adult, more specifically a man, in our communities.
Consider creating some sort of appropriate rite of passage, or coming of age ceremony, for your son. Invite people who are important to him now and who can be supports and guides for him as he enters new phases of his young life. Let this be a time to celebrate his emerging strength and the unique characteristics that make him special. Tell those you have gathered about your pride in his accomplishments but more importantly about your pride in how he is growing into a man of character. Find artifacts that can symbolize these important milestones and consider creating shared adventures for these moments that can also be symbolic of the challenging and yet rewarding path of becoming an adult and the best men that you both can be.