As the dad of three boys, I’ve learned a thing or two about what a dad needs to know about raising boys. I’ve always known what I thought I should teach them, being just my brother and I growing up. I’ve figured out what a dad needs to know about raising girls, too.
First, it should be known that while boys will be boys, we shouldn’t expect them to all be William Wallace (Braveheart) or really to be anything other than what they are. What we believe about boys and our sons will shape their lives. We lead by example and we teach them, even if we don’t realize that we are doing so.
Imagine your life in 20 years, 30 years… what does it look like? What has your son become? What sort of life do you want him to have? We tend to think of what “job” they will have, but instead, try to think about what kind of life they really have. Is your child responsible? Caring for himself and his family? Is he kind? Spiritual? Educated? Helpful? Get ready for the truth: YOU, the parent, are the one that will instill these qualities in your child. He will take it and learn from it, but you will teach the values and skills to lead his life.
So what a Dad needs to know about raising boys boils down to just a few things:
To communicate, you have to listen. Listen well. Take part in what he is saying and try to understand him. Remember you were his age once. It is about realizing how your son is feeling and trying to identify with him, instead of trying to “fix” it. I’ve learned this one the hard way, after years of trying to “fix” situations and realizing that sometimes, they just want someone to talk to.
2. Time out (not what you think)
When I use a time out or a “go to your room”, it is for the simple reason that I am getting upset, frustrated or angry and don’t want to yell at our kids or dole out punishments that don’t fit the crime. Time out can be used for YOU as much as your child. A five or ten minute break is enough to calm down and reflect.
3. Learning when to back off & let it go.
This one is hard for me, but I once read that when humans become angry, their brains revert back to the most primitive part and that when you yell, you might as well be T-Rex fighting with another T-Rex, just making sounds & clawing at one another. Sometimes, when our son gets upset, as hard as it is, I have to just let him get it out, give him a few minutes and then talk to him. He ALWAYS calms down, feels bad for raising his voice or losing control of his emotions and we talk it out. Then… you let it go.
4. Spend time together.
Since I have started working from home, I have had the chance to bond with our kids like never before. Over the summer, Becky took three of our kids swimming while (one day a week), I took one of our kids to Carowinds (a theme park near our house). Relationships require time, so you have to hang out with your child. In our house, 20 minutes a day is Becky’s rule of thumb, which means 20 minutes without ANY distractions – just you & your child playing or talking (for us, that is 20 times four). A good time for this is when you are tucking the kids into bed at night. Remember- 20 is the minimum.
5- One on One time.
While I say that 20 minutes a day is the minimum, I don’t mean in a group. That’s the kicker. You see, I coach football, wrestling & soccer, which means that I spend time with each of our four kids as part of a team. That really doesn’t count. I am with 30 other kids and can’t talk to my own child (sons or daughter) alone for more than just a minute during that time. I coach because the kids have asked me to and I like to be in that part of their lives. Becky usually handles homework and reading with them and I handle sports- it works in our family.
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