Yes, there are deep, monumental topics that fathers should talk to their sons about, but there are also practical life lessons that should come from Dad. When Dad teaches these basics they will not only be learned, but they will be remembered truly as life lessons, good times, and important father/son moments.
So, here is my version of Lessons from Dads to Sons:
- How to put a worm on a hook. And if successful with that part, how to clean a fish. Yes, anyone, including mom, can teach this, but think about the moments and memories we are creating when we leave these things to Dad. Not to mention, the pride your son will feel when he is able to help set up your fishing pole. I love to fish, but I especially enjoy seeing the boys treat me like a lady, and get my worm and pole ready for me!
- How to change a tire. Definitely something everyone should know…male and female. But again, something Dad should share with his sons. In the process, boys learn car stuff and the bigger life lessons of taking care of themselves and their things, not panicking when something goes wrong (flat tire), and the ability (and willingness) to help others out.
- How to throw a ball. Football, baseball, basketball, Nerf ball. Doesn’t matter which…although how great if it’s all of them! This should come from Dad. Yes, Mom can teach, but better yet, Mom can just get out there and play catch later, once the basics are established. Once again, creating memories for a lifetime! These are Father/Son essentials.
- How to laugh at themselves. Dads are the best at this. Moms can be the more sensitive ones, and in many cases should be, while Dads can teach the invaluable lesson to just laugh at themselves; whether they fall, break something, or just look silly. Laugh.
- From #4, we take the leap to learning how to “laugh it off.” It starts with mastering the “laughing at themselves” concept, but moves into a much bigger lesson. Sometimes there is nothing else you can do. We can’t always solve the world, the argument, or even the puzzle, and we just have to be able laugh at the whole situation: laugh it off and move on.
- Hand in hand with #5, comes healthy competition. Men have a much different competitive nature than women. It can be healthy and motivating, or controlling and ugly. Dads have to teach their sons the balance and the boundaries of healthy competition. The sportsmanship lessons come in here, too.
- Now that they know how to laugh at themselves, sons also need to learn, from their father, that it is okay to cry. Real men do cry. So do boys. And it is okay. It does not make them less of a man. In many cases, it makes them more of one. And, fathers will teach their sons balance here, too.
- One of the most important lessons a father must teach his son, is how to love their mother. They learn by example, from watching their father love his mother. And also by watching their father love their mother. Both are incredibly important, and best taught by Dad.
- Respect. Respect for life, for Mom, for women in general, for other men, for boundaries, for relationships, for rules. Boys learn respect by seeing respect. Seeing it from Dad is the best and strongest way to instill this lesson.
- Integrity. We always hear this word and the concept of “doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” This is such an important father/son lesson. No one else will be able to get this message across as clearly or as strongly as Dad.
- Fidelity. You knew we had to throw a couple serious ones in here. Truly a lesson Dad needs to teach. This lesson will come through conversation, through action, and through an unspoken witness type message. Please Dads…take the time to teach this one.
- Important lessons about Rocky, Rambo, the Godfather, and essential war movies. Have you ever noticed how much men communicate through movie lines? They have to learn them somewhere and with someone. Dad is the one for the job! While we may love these shows, this is not our role. This is a classic father-son thing!
- How to change a light bulb. Seriously. This and other simple household tasks are best taught by Dad. This lesson transcends the simple action and illustrates responsibility and the ability and importance of taking care of the home.
- How to make a paper airplane. Really. Simple, fun things that boys learn and love from their fathers.
Notice that there are obviously some bigger life lessons in some of the simple ones. A final, important thought: as my husband put it, “if you do it right you can knock out 2 birds with 1 stone- “teach your boy something while getting stuff done.” Men talk and listen best while they’re “doing stuff.” Many important conversations happen between fathers and sons while fixing tires, cleaning fish, and changing light bulbs. Teach them the action, the art of “man conversation,” and whatever life lesson comes up in the meantime!
While not every child has a great Dad in their lives, whenever possible give Dad the opportunity to have a part in their son’s life, even if just in the “making paper airplanes” role. Your sons will be better for it. And, if that is not possible, try to find a suitable, long term person to step in for some of these: Grandpa, Uncle, Godfather, someone stable and reliable.
Regardless of our personal feelings or situations, it is up to us to raise strong, healthy boys, and help them grow into strong healthy men.
Photo Credit: http://www.thegridto.com/life/parenting/the-joys-of-single-parenthood-vomit-and-all/