How many times have you heard parents say something like, "I wish I'd known this when I was a new parent!" Well, now you have a chance to help your son go into his young adult years armed with intentional knowledge and practical experience that will give him a better shot at becoming a great dad.
No matter what age your son is today, start now to implement these suggestions. Watch as he grows into a man who will make a great dad.
- Make a list of the qualities you wish your own dad, or your son's dad, had. Be specific. Things like compassion, responsibility and gentleness should be on the list. Rather than talking with your son about the ways his dad does not live up to this list of qualities, find examples of those who do.
- Without using your son as an emotional crutch, begin to involve him in the business of running a family. Let your son see what it takes to balance the family budget, plan healthy meals and keep a peaceful home.
- If you have become a nagging mom, stop. This will set your son on a course of disrespecting women. Instead, practice respectful conversations with him. If the two of you have developed some bad communication habits, decide together to work on it.
- Give you son opportunities to learn responsibility early. Rather than simply doling out a chore list, involve your son in the process of understanding why these chores are important. Rather than simply asking your son to get a job, find a place where the two of you can volunteer together in your community. Volunteering is a great way to build self-esteem, as well as to foster a sense of responsibility.
- When your son messes up, what is your response? If you are aggressive in your imposition of discipline, deliver lectures or send him the message that he is a bad person, he will believe this is acceptable parenting. A great measure of the appropriateness of your parenting style is, if your son complained about his dad treating him in the same way, how would you feel? Is this something that your son would cry or get angry over? Is this the way you hope your son one day treats his own children?
- Create an environment that gives your son the message that gentle and emotional men are not only acceptable, they are preferrable. Do not shut down your son if he is sad, tell him to "take it like a man" when he gets hurt, or tell him fighting and bullying are okay.
- Model for your son what it means to take care of your own emotional and spiritual life. But, go even further than simply modeling healthy behavior. You must have conversations about what you are doing to stay mentally healthy.