From the moment that my wife and I found out that we were going to have a son the rest of my week became a mix of emotions. The first emotion that swept through was excitement. I have always wanted a son and the thought of having my oldest be a boy has always been a dream of mine. (Not that I wouldn’t have loved a little girl, but you know what I mean.) Shortly thereafter, the excitement was replaced with the thoughts of what it takes for me to teach my son to be a man. How do I help him become more than a grown up male? How do I teach him to become a Real Man?
Along the way, as I ran down this thought, I realized I did not have a great idea for my self and began taking to heart the things that I was learning as they played out in my own life. It was sobering for me. I would like to share with you a few of the assumptions that were underlying for me and the results of my thought process with you in hopes that it might be useful to other fathers.
A Few Conclusions
- My Son will not always want to talk to me. I have this dream that my son will always talk to me, but instead of wishing that be the case I figure that it would serve me better to assume that there will be a time when this will not be the case. It was for me. I am just going to plan on it.
- Structure provides a place for awkward conversations. I am speaking of those talks that most parents dread. Sex, masturbation, drugs, drinking, etc. I am not addressing those right now but as you will see I am setting up a context that those conversations fit into. If they fall within the structure I believe that my son will better understand how those decisions relate to the rest of his life.
- Numbers are essential. I am referring to the community of men that I ask to be involved in my son’s life, what I call the “Enlistment of Service”. This is important for three reasons: I want to place before my son role models that he can watch throughout his life, I want him to have men he knows are invested in him that he can ask for counsel and when he becomes a man I want him to be among Men. This last one is not to say that being able to stand next to your dad as a man is not powerful but a community of men, I believe, is even more powerful.
- What I place before my son to pursue, I must pursue with him. I have tried to figure out how to illustrate for my son that this is something that we are both pursuing. I choose to do this by framing the definition of a real man twice. One goes in his bedroom next to his bed and the other next to my side of my bed. My hope is that he grows up seeing them and I can show him that we are both pursuing the same thing.
- My son needs me to be proactive. I know that there are men who are true men and never had a father who taught them this stuff but I believe that my son has a greater chance of learning this at an earlier time if I intentionally teach him then if I leave it to the world. I do not trust the world, I want him to learn the truth and I believe, as his father, that is my responsibility.
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