Sons tend to look to their fathers for life lessons.
Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.” Reed Markham
At some point during my six years as a mother, I realized that no matter what I say or do or teach my two sons, they will inevitably look to their father for their life lessons, simply because he is a male.
On this Father’s Day, I offer this tip to all the Dads out there: be aware of how much influence you have, and what messages you are imparting. Teach your sons about:
Love. Tell them you love them (even if you didn’t hear it growing up.) Tell them why you fell in love with their mother. Let them see, from you, that love is a powerful thing and that it’s okay to feel such a strong emotion. “Our sons need affection from us just as much as our daughters. They need to feel we love and care about them and we need to show it through affection,” says marriage and family therapist Jeremy G. Schneider.
Respect. Teach them to have respect for everyone – their mother, other children, elders, waiters, and other cultures – and for everything – plants, animals, money, their possessions, other people’s opinions. Teach them to respect themselves.
Saying Sorry. Show your sons that there is no shame in admitting that you are wrong. That it’s okay to say, “I’m sorry.” Do this by example. Show that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.
Sports. Pass on everything you know about sports. Not just the competitive and strategic side, but also the fun side. Go to a park and kick a soccer ball around. Have a catch or teach them what a lay up is. Show them what you fell in love with about a particular sport.
Outdoors. Help your boys develop an appreciation for nature and the great outdoors. Take them camping and sleep under the stars (even if it’s just in your backyard), go for nature hikes (find a walking stick along the way) and look for birds or trees you can identify. Go fishing!
New Experiences. Let your sons see that you are open to trying new things, whether it’s food, or places or adventures. Go kayaking, go to a ball game or museum, eat purple carrots. Help your boys grow and become well rounded by having many experiences.
Health. Teach your sons the importance of good health – taking care of his teeth, eating right, exercising, and keeping up with doctors’ appointments. Set the example.
Social Skills. Being able to carry on a conversation and communicate effectively can make your sons’ life easier and more successful. So even if you are not social yourself, help your sons develop these skills. Ask questions to keep conversations rolling and let the other person do the talking. “Fathers play a significant role in shaping their sons’ abilities to communicate openly,” says author Wes Yoder.
Self-Sufficiency. Give your sons the power to be able to take care of themselves. Teach them how to do their laundry, clean up after themselves and cook at least one meal. All you know is peanut butter and jam sandwiches? That’s okay. Teach them and then learn how to cook something new together.
And help your boys realize they are in charge of their own happiness. “Demonstrating your own resilience after a fall by moving along with your own life and enjoying all that life has to offer is key to teaching kids how to get back up quickly,” says Kim Ades, president of Frame of Mind Coaching.
Finding Purpose. Buddha said, “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Help your boys find their passion. Guide them to something they are good at. With knowledge comes confidence and self worth.
Being Present. In order for your sons to value others, they need to be valued. So be involved in your sons’ lives – go to games, attend parent’s night at schools, and take interest in what interests them. Listen to what they have to say.