Five Principles Every Dad Should Practice With His Son

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.

When Men Lose Their Backbone at Home

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Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.  1 Peter 3:7

Men can be two different people. The man you see at work, with his friends,  or on the ball court is not necessarily the same man you observe at home. At the work place men can be driven and assertive, engaged, leading, and high energy. In their element they are confident and strong, like a lion. Conversely, when they get home many men transform into a passive invertebrate. Assertive and vocal with their friends, coworkers, and teammates, they are reduced to a passive blob with their wife and children. Sound a little extreme? Maybe so but there seems to be an epidemic among men where the wife is the leader and strong voice in the family instead of him. The results don’t seem to be better among Christian men. Christian men often remain passive at home, yielding to their wives to make decisions, direct the family, and train the kids. Christian men often leave it to their wife to handle the spiritual things of the family. God is not ok with this.

Men convince themselves that their primary purpose is to provide monetarily  for the family. Yet, no adult I have ever met has felt the greatest thing their father did for them was bring home the bacon. Men give much of themselves to their work  and hobbies and little of themselves to their family. Being masculine to most men means working hard and not being romantic, being sensitive to his wife’s emotional needs,and being vulnerable with his children. Many men are insecure and are not willing to be vulnerable and emotional, even with their family.

Why do men turn passive in the home? Most likely they just want to keep the peace. They are emotionally spent from work and they just want to do as little as possible emotionally at home. They avoid issues, tiptoeing around potential “landmines.” When they do finally voice their opinion it is ignored or steamrolled because the wife knows for better or worse, she is in charge.

Some men would read this and think they are giving their wife just what she would want, to be in charge. Most women I talk with tell me the opposite. Recently a lady in my office lamented: “I would love to be able to follow my husband’s lead but he prefers to let me lead. When I ask his opinion he tells me whatever I want to do.I not only want to follow I need to follow him. Yet, he will not lead.” Men opt out. They take the easy road and they are misguided into thinking that their wife is ok with that.

Adam was passive with Eve. When God calls Adam out for their sin He rebukes Adam for “yielding to his wife.” Adam is a wet noodle. He just goes along with what she desires. He doesn’t take a stand even though when God rebukes Him He is quick to mention He didn’t agree, that it was she who did it!

When men are passive at home, their wives respect for them erodes over time. They feel isolated and alone in overseeing the family and raising the children. The sons are robbed of an example of what it means to be a real man, one who is sensitive, vulnerable, and engaged. Their daughters often marry passive men because they have watched mom run the roost all their life. This is not how God intended it to be.

Now I am not saying that the husband is ruler and the wife and kids need to act like slaves. I am saying that men need to be present in the home in a direct and influential way. They need to be carrying the bulk of the load. They need to stand up for their wife and children where needed. They need to have the “hard talks” with their children and not just leave it to mom. They need to be a shoulder for their wife to cry on. They need to be quick to listen and slow to try and fix it. Men need to be engaged spiritually and emotionally with their family. It is not the woman’s job to take care of those things.

Families need men to grow a spine at home and stop just taking the path of least resistance at home. Men need to step up and lead their families. I find that most women are willing to let their husbands lead if they will just do so.

Here are a few things that would be great steps towards being the leader God has called the man to be:

  1. Pray over your wife and children.
  2. Be a good listener to your wife and do not try and quickly fix the issue
  3. Engage your wife and children in emotional subjects
  4. Be vulnerable and admit your faults and failures to your wife and kids
  5. Show your wife affection in front of the kids. Teach them how a man should treat a woman.
  6. Take your kids out on dates and listen to what they are going through.
  7. Do devotions with your family at the dinner table or before the children go to bed.

Step up men. Let’s be the leaders God has called us to be in our families.