A short while ago we offered up some advice from plenty of wise folks for raising strong daughters. Fairness means the time is ripe for advice on raising strong sons, too. Our responsibilities as parents are to raise sons who respect others but also themselves, who play hard but work hard, too. The best badass sons grow to be strong, badass men.
It’s a Mighty Big World Out There
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” — André Gide
French writer and Nobel Laureate Gide did his share of traveling. Traveling broadens us; we are more appreciative of what we have at home, more compassionate to others who have less, and more able to fend for ourselves when necessary.
Yes, travel can be visiting the catacombs of Paris. But travel can also be a weekend camping trip to Sky Meadows State Park, where you both have to pack in what you need to survive. Travel can be helping your 11-year-old navigate the intricacies of taking a taxi to a train to a bus to a rented bike. Get your boy to learn confidence and practical skills in dealing with dilemmas, languages, unfamiliar surroundings, other people, and the world.
Work At It and Never Stop
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan
You can dream of victory. You will get no farther than the couch, no closer to the end zone, and no nearer to the rim, but you can just lie there and dream. Or you can work at it, work out, and work your way up.
Your boy wants to stop being bullied? Teach him to work out to not only rid himself of stress and aggression, but to build his body into something that sends a silent signal to bullies: do not mess with me.
“You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes.” — Wally Schirra, Sr., father of Apollo astronaut Wally Schirra, Jr.
Mothers nurture; you cannot fight that instinct. After a divorce, expect your ex-wife to coddle your boy. Yet he will also be with you, and he needs to know that he is no more special than the next kid. He is loved and valued, but he is not above others simply because he exists.
Expect your boy to have and use good manners. He can become an astronaut or an assistant manager, but if he knows how to shake hands, say “Please,” and “Thank you,” and treat everyone he meets with respect and dignity, he will be a hero to a lot of people.
Be a Guide, Not a Goad
“Like they say, you can learn more from a guide in one day than you can in three months fishing alone.” —Mario Lopez
Stand beside your son through good times and bad. You protect him from harm, yes, but you let him see the dangerous and dull paths ahead. Guide him to make wise and righteous choices, do not goad him into something you will both come to regret.
When you deliberately choose to be your child’s guide and coach, rather than his boss, you will both be stronger. The bond you forge will also be stronger
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela
No boy or man should ever be led to think being fearless is constructive. The era of “boys don’t cry” and “stiff upper lip” is long past. Heroes feel fear; what they do afterwards is what makes them heroes.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde
Nearly every romantic comedy movie employs the “meet cute,” in which the two lovers cross paths because one is simply being himself or herself. Instead of devouring hours trying to be what others want him to be, encourage your son to be his own man.
Sure, he worries about that special girl in school, but she will look past him if all he does is stutter and stammer when she talks to him. If he goes his own way, she may notice and follow. If she does not, he at least has his own interest to keep himself busy.
Commit to It
“Finish him!” — Steve Richie, for Mortal Kombat
Whether with a video game or the school baseball team, do not let your boy put in half an effort or let others down by giving up on himself. Someone else starts a fight? Teach him to finish it. Teach him to commit.
When you reach The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contact us online, you reach a firm dedicated to protecting and defending the rights of men.