My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12
Too many dads are absent and are eroding the health of their families. I don’t mean they are not physically present. Often, they can be found “on the premise” but they are not engaged. Dad’s, your kids need to have your attention, talk with you, be challenged by you, and learn from you. Your son(s) especially need to learn how to be a man from you and the truth is they most likely will follow in your footsteps whether it’s the right path or not. How you treat his mom is probably how he will treat his wife. How you communicate love and affection or lack thereof will be most likely how he communicates it with his children.
I have come to understand that there are several strategic things I can do with my two boys that will help them become the man I believe God wants them to be:
1) Quality Time– first of all, your boys need you to spend time with them. They need alone time with their dad. When I do spend time with them, my boys need to know that they have my undivided attention. They need to know I am fully engaged in the moment. I think there are a few ways to communicate this to them. Eye contact is a big one. They need to see your eyes and that you are connecting on their level. I think asking questions of your boys about their interests and feelings communicates interest. I think showing interest in what they like to do makes them feel valued. All of these things maximizes time spent with them. It will create memories they will never forget.
2) Show them affection- boys are not like girls but that in no way means they don’t need hugs and words of affirmation consistently from us. They need to hear we love them and that we are proud of them. They need our affirmation. It is food and water for their young soul. If affirmation is not given then they might feel they never measure up or that they cannot do enough to earn your favor. Your kids don’t need to earn your favor; they need to be told over and over that they already have your approval. I try and hug and kiss my boys a lot. I don’t let it be awkward and I fight through their shrugging it off. I don’t let their body language deter me. They need my affection whether they realize it or not.
3) Vulnerability- my boys need to see me be vulnerable. They need to hear me share about my struggles and weaknesses. They need to see me admit wrong and be quick to apologize to their mom when I mess up. They need to see that I can take responsibility for all my actions, good and bad . They also need to see me communicate my feelings. That I am not scared to talk about being hurt or sad or happy. They need to see me be sentimental at times. My boys need to see me dote on their mom. At certain times they need to see me cry. Real men are willing to be vulnerable. I need to model that for them.
4) Talk with them about sex- I am amazed how many boys grow up to be men and only learn about sex from their friends and television. What are we thinking? I know the topic can be awkward for both the dad and son but they need to hear from us on sex. They need to know that being curious is normal and that having sexual desires are natural. They need guidance from us on what is appropriate to do with those curiosities and desires and also what is not. They need not feel embarrassed when they ask tough questions or express what they are feeling about sex. They must know their dad is a safe person they can talk to and not feel ridicule or embarrassment from. I don’t let my boys anticipated awkwardness on the subject keep me from talking about it with them.
5) Teach them how to be a man- I want my boys to not live by fear: to be willing to stand up for truth when others don’t: to treat a woman with honor even if it looks old fashioned: to do what is right and not necessarily what is popular. To me these qualities define a real man. It is not about being gruff and loud and working to make them see how strong you think you are. Macho-ism is often a ruse. I think real men treat women with respect, our sensitive to others, do what they say they are going to do, love Jesus, show affection to their family, and are willing to sacrifice anything for the good of those they love. If I hope to see my boys be this kind of man then I have to model it for them and guide them to it.
Our boys are a blessing. You only get a small time with them to train them for adulthood. Don’t look back and regret that you didn’t do the things above to help your boys be the men God wants them to be.