Raising boys is a challenge! I don’t care what everyone else says. I have three boys and even though there are moments of joy that I would not trade for anything in the world, there are times when I wonder about those boys! Like most dads I talk to, we ask questions and the most common question I hear is: Am I doing a good job as a father? Am I fulfilling my duties as a dad? When my kids grow up, will they think of me as a godly father who always did the right thing, even when it was hard to do?
Some time ago I received an interesting email from a dad that was genuinely concerned about his sons. More specifically, he was wanting to know if he was doing a good job as a dad. He tells me that in his line of work, he always has a plan or it could cost his business millions of dollars. Everything he does and says is calculated with a very real outcome in mind. He wants to do the right thing as a dad but has found that his strategic thinking is a bit off when it comes to his boys. So I have given this dilemma some serious thought. and this article is the answer I have for this father. Are you ready?
What we should be asking ourselves is not if we are doing a good job but rather “What do son’s need from their fathers”?
I don’t pretend to have it all together. But one thing I know, The work of fathering boys is both challenging and rewarding. My answer really boils down to a few simple but critical things that every good dad must do, built on a framework of providing, nurturing and guiding. The problem is that way too many dads feel they are doing a better job than they really are.
The following three questions are extremely important for every dad. You should be asking yourself these three questions every day. I know that if you’re reading this, your children matter to you. So let’s dive in:
Question #1 – “Do my boys know I love them?”
Human behavior is quite predictable and this is no exception. If you want to know what things are important to someone all you have to do is look at their bank statement and ask them how they spend their time. All of us will spend time, energy and money on those things we care about. The best way that you can communicate to your children that they are important to you is by making them a priority. There are so many things that compete for your time, money and energy. Things such as our jobs, television, sports, friends, technology, and many more demand your time and energy as well as your money. It’s no wonder that children today think that they don’t matter! Depression in children and in youth is at an all-time high. I am convinced that depression in children could be curved down if we just took the time and spent our money and energy on our children. Our children need to know that they are a priority and that they are our most important investment in the world. They need to know that all the other stuff is just that, it’s “stuff”. Please, don’t give your children the leftovers. They deserve the best from their dad.
I am pretty sure that most dads reading this tell their children frequently that they love them. And if you are one of those rare people (and some still exist) that never express love to their children. Repent! Ask yourself right now, “Does my son know that I love him?”
Nurturing means a lot of things. It certainly includes hugging and kissing our boys—yes, even boys need hugs and kisses from their dads on a daily basis and we need to tell them that we love them. But it also includes taking care of their daily needs, like cooking for them, giving them baths, playing with them, reading to them and helping their mothers. What? Did I just say cooking for them? YES! Even guys should cook for them if they can. Just make sure you know what you are doing so you don’t poison them or get them sick!
I have discovered that despite the conventional wisdom that nurturing is primarily mom’s territory, the root meaning of “nurture” is “to protect,” a role that most dads are comfortable with. So show them you love them today and cook something for them, then tell them you love them and hug them. They may think you’ve lost a screw, they may even say they don’t want you to do it, but inside….deep inside, you are communicating you love them. And that’s all that matters.
So, raising boys is a challenge. Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently. And it is also a huge responsibility. If you want to be a good father to your sons ask yourself, “Do they know I love them”?
Question #2 – “Does my son know that what he does is important to me?”
A son wants to know that the way he is living his life; his interests, schoolwork, hobbies and passions is pleasing to his father. And, as a good dad, it is critical for a father to guide his son into the right actions and help him live a life centered on serving others.
However, you can’t expect to teach a son the value of charity if you are not charitable in how you spend time with him. You can’t expect to get him interested in your church’s community-service project if you haven’t established a “community” that includes him in your home.
Show him that everything he does is important to you, and then you can show him what is really important, and he will welcome it.
Question #3 – “Does my son know how proud I am of him?”
This boils down to a son’s innate need to be affirmed by his father. Your affirmation prepares your son to enter the world with the confidence and “emotional armor” that he needs in order not just to survive, but to thrive. A son needs to know that you are pleased with him, not for what he does or does not do, but because of who he is.
And remember that the way a father affirms his son depends on things like his culture and community and his son’s temperament and interests. The objective of affirmation is to meet a son at his particular point of need and to connect with him, heart to heart. Indeed, there is no cookie-cutter approach to affirmation. One boy may simply need an encouraging word at the right time. A special breakfast out with dad may be what another son needs. A formal ceremony or rite of passage might fit certain cultures and situations.
But what all of these acts of affirmation, big and small, communicate to your son is that you are his advocate and that your love is abiding and unconditional.
So to sum it all up, Don’t ask yourself if you are doing a good job as a father. That is too vague of a question. You need to narrow it down by asking three things:
1.- “Does my son know I love him?”
2.- “Does my son know that what he does is important to me?”
3.- “Does my son know how proud I am of him?”
How you answer these three questions will determine just how good or not so good of a job you may be doing. Then, don’t get discouraged. Start living an intentional life as a father.
Do you have any advice for dads who are struggling to show love and affection to their kids? How do you show your kids that what they do is important? How do you show your kids you are proud of them? Let us know. Please comment below and start a discussion.
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