Our sons desperately need us to teach them important life lessons. Here are 8 lessons I believe important.
- Prioritize character over accomplishment. The character you develop through sports involvement—the ability to win honorably, lose gracefully, work with others, and respect authority—goes much further in life than the potential scholarship or the winning goal. Character is eternal.
- Giving is greater than taking. Don’t take another person’s reputation from them, give them honor. Don’t take a person’s dignity, give them compassion. Don’t take a girl’s innocence away, give them respect.
- Think ahead before you make a mess. Someone has to clean the bathroom and pick up the spit balls. Even more difficulty, someone has to comfort the brokenhearted “ex-girlfriend” and restore the esteem of those victimized by a bully. Rather than be the cause of these difficulties, think ahead and help avoid them.
- Powerful men are men who humbly serve. Service reveals how much you truly love someone. So, start practicing now by expressing love for your family through service in your home. Load the dishwasher, scoop the kitty litter, clean the bathroom, wash clothes, mow the lawn, and rake the leaves.
- Pursue wisdom. Remember, “a wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power” (Proverbs 24:5). And, “wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers in a city” (Ecclesiastes 7:19). Wisdom is possessed only by men of strength.
- Become a leader in kindness, humility, generosity, and grace. People are sure to follow a leader who displays these attributes on a consistent basis. Men become true heroes in the proportion they learn and practice these traits.
- Prepare to become an honorable husband…and choose your spouse wisely. Each person deserves respect, including you. Choose a spouse who respects you and wants to work with you for a lifetime of joy. A happy marriage will give you a taste of heaven on earth; an unhappy marriage filled with conflict will give you a taste of…well, you know. Choose your spouse wisely.
- Laugh…hard and often. It makes everyone feel better, gives you some good exercise, and fills a home with joy.
What other lessons do you think our sons need to learn?
I don’t want to come across as extreme or sound too alarmist, but look at these statistics.
These are alarming and devastating statistics. Something is missing I our son’s lives. I believe our sons desperately need to receive at least four gifts to change these disturbing statistics. And, they receive these gifts from us, the adults in their lives!
- Strong families. Strong families begin with strong marriages, marriages that reflect mutual love, sacrifice, and service. Strong families also include actively involved fathers. Active fathers teach their sons how to treat others, how to manage their emotions, how to engage the world with honor, and how to live with dignity as a male.
- A sense of purpose bigger than themselves. Our sons need an honorable vision of their place in, and contribution to, the world. Parents help nurture this sense of purpose by sparking interests, nurturing dreams, and supporting thoughtful responses to injustices that arise. This can be as simple as encouraging our sons to befriend the “odd kid” at school or volunteering with our son to feed the hungry, visit the lonely, or care for the needy. Our sons’ lives and visions must go beyond the sports arena, the garage band, or valedictorian status. We need to help them develop a vision of how they can respond to the needs of those around them. Another way to build a sense of purpose involves helping our sons experience awe, to stand amazed at the vastness of the bigger world that surrounds them. We must help our sons realize they are an important part of a much larger and vaster purpose, which leads me to the last two gifts.
- A deep sense of connection. Connection with other people, family in particular, is protective, nurturing, and sustaining. Connection protects against addiction(Click here for more information). It mitigates pain. It boosts immunity. It nurtures positive values. It enhances a positive self-concept. It encourages more intimacy and continuing connection. Connection with God brings a greater sense of purpose and awe. Connection with nature brings a sense of awe contributing to less self-centeredness and more patience (Read Using the Power of Awe for more info). You get the idea. Our sons need a deep sense of connection to their families, their God, nature, and the world of others around them.
- The freedom and support to express a full range of emotions. Our sons need a life filled with laughter, love, and joy. They also need to know it’s alright to experience deep sorrows, fears, and frustrations in life. Boys benefit from learning to accept the joys and the sorrows, the laughter and the tears. They grow stronger as they experience and learn to express happiness and emotional pain, ecstatic joy and moments of anger in beneficial ways. They learn this skill in strong families that freely accept emotion, connect through that emotion, and teach respectful expression of that emotion.
Our sons have a deep, even desperate, need for these four gifts. Our world has a desperate need for our sons to receive these gifts so they can grow into strong men. You, the fathers and mothers of our sons, have the joy and responsibility of giving these gifts to your sons.