Okay, so here it is: there are many, many wonderful fathers out there. I am married to a man who is a wonderful father. I see many other wonderful fathers, and I am always so glad and so pleased to see them in action.
But I also see many men who do not lead their families in the financial or spiritual sense, who are not involved fathers, and those who, in all honesty, seem to contribute very little to the life of their families. They also seem to be poor boundary setters for their children, and don’t seem to back their spouse up or talk to their children about having respect for their mother.
I am sorry, it sounds so harsh and judgmental laid out in black and white like that.
But my thought is this: how are we raising our boys to become men? How are we helping them to gain responsibility, to learn how to be men? Will they grow up and be able to provide for a family if they decide to have a one-income family due to choices when they have children? Will they respect their wives and back their wives up and help their children treat their mothers like the precious women that they are? Will they be able to lead their families? Will they help lead in their place of worship? Will they help lead society?
I think beyond the individual family, we are facing a real crisis on a societal level. It has almost gotten to the point where having sons seems to be viewed as some sort of strange and odd liability. “Oh boys….all that boy energy.” “Oh, boys, you know, they are so behind developmentally.” “Oh, boys, you know, they can’t sit still.” (And yes! Not all boys are like the picture people seem to paint, although there can be true physiologic differences between the way boys and girls and men and women are wired).
But just let me put this out there in terms of parenting: if you expect nothing out of your boys and don’t ever expect them to rise up and be boys of valor…well, then that could possibly be the kind of man he ends up being.
I think the fastest way to help boys in our society is to have them spend time with good role models (whether that is within their own family or outside of their family), and to teach them responsibility starting from an early age. Capitalize on the industriousness of your son through work for the family. What a wonderful thing, to be able to contribute to the welfare of the family through cooking, fixing things and building things. Have your son learn these very practical skills and see the family as a place to learn to be part of a team.
Let’s teach our boys the manners they will need when they will become men. Let’s set boundaries on their behavior in kind ways that do not take the consequences of one’s actions away. Let’s listen to our boys, but let’s also be crystal clear that our boys know what is right and what is absolutely wrong.
Finally, let’s help our sons obtain a vision for how a man should function in our society and within the family. That vision may be different for each family to a certain extent, but I would hope that vision would include treating his family with respect, helping to lead the family, helping to provide for his family and being loyal to his wife and his family. Some of these qualities women don’t seem to have from their own husbands or their own fathers, but we can still hold these up for our sons and change the next generation… Yes, the old-fashioned stuff.