When you think about fathers and sons, you may envision a Norman Rockwellesque scene where a young boy looks up to his father while he’s shaving, or watches his dad in a mirror as he learns how to tie a Windsor knot. The best thing a father can do for his son is be there for him. Although both parents teach their children about compassion, love, and trust, dads show their sons firsthand how to respect others, recognize their emotions, and trust in themselves. It’s not about matchbox cars, baseball mitts, or video games; the best gifts fathers can give their sons don’t come in boxes.
Support and respect his mother
Sons look to their fathers for guidelines about their relationships, especially with women. The way a father treats his son’s mother says a lot about how women should be treated. Teaching the importance of respect, attentiveness, patience, and kindness begins with the way a son’s parents treat each other.
Spend time with your son
Your son is going to remember the time you spent with him, not the time you spent at work or keeping the yard manicured. Go outside and teach him how to catch or take a self-defense class together. Lie in the grass after the sun goes down, and point out constellations. Even if it’s mom who picks him up from school and cooks him dinner, when you walk through the door he runs up and throws his arms around you. Maybe you help him with his homework. Maybe you have breakfast together in the morning. It doesn’t matter what you do; it’s the time you spend with your son that will show him that he matters to you.
Teach by example
Young boys need someone to teach them about life. You can tell him anything you want, but it’s not going to resonate with him unless you show him. Being a significant part of his life is the first step in demonstrating the importance of acting out what you believe in. Telling him you love him won’t mean anything if you aren’t there for him physically and emotionally.
Along the same lines as teaching by example, one of the best ways to demonstrate to your son that you love him is to show it. It’s so often implied that boys should be wary of showing affection, and that they should present themselves as stoic and unwavering. It’s often the mother who snuggles with her son, while the dad practices “tough love.” But the more a child is loved and shown affection, the more that child will have the confidence to love others.
Keep the lines of communication open
When kids trust in their parents, they are less likely to rebel or take their lives on a downward spiral. They need to know that someone understands what they are going through. Boys identify with their fathers. There is a connection between the two of them that can’t be forged with anyone else. Listen to your son when he asks for advice. Make sure to tell him what he means to you. By doing so, he’ll be more likely to ask you when he needs help, opening the door for your guidance.
When a father teaches his boy about life and love, it demonstrates to him that someone just like him has gone down a similar road. As your son meanders down his own path, taking detours and making u-turns along the way, he needs to know that he can ask you for directions. Without that option, a child can feel lost. Help him gain the self-confidence to create his own path and perhaps to blaze his own trail.