Mentoring Boys. Tips for Dads

One son, two son, three son, more...

How many sons do you have?

  • Of sons I have ones
  • Two sons, twice the funs
  • Sons times thrice, blame my wife
  • Sons galore, I have four
  • Five or more! Well there ain't no law.
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Where do the years go?

A common refrain, and one that fully resonates with parents. Kids just seem to speed up life.

An illusion? Maybe. We know hours don't really go any faster, but life schedules dramatically get reshuffled when kids come on the scene.

Oddly, that same period that passes so rapidly for parents, dawdles by for our children; days seem as hours and weeks as days—an aspect of childhood we all miss.

Memorable Moments

And this translates into a good thing for parents, for whatever time we manage to give to our children becomes amplified. To them each minute stretches out into lasting memories; some of which they will never forget.

In this article I want to inspire fathers to build many such lasting moments with their children.

In this article I want to focus on mentoring our sons.

I'll present some wisdom of the ages on the subject and intersperse those with some of the Father and Son highlights of my own.

Source

Be Honest About Yourselve

Are there things about yourself you'd rather your son didn't imitate?

  • Yes
  • No
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Negative Fathering

Source

Mini Me's

Someone once said the first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children. Cynical, yes, but there are seeds of truth in it.

Perhaps nothing emphasises the reality of fallible human nature more than the baggage we can pass on to our kids, as hard as we might try not to.

Therefore, a discerning practice for all potential fathers is to sit down and reflect on the hand-me-down ruins (inherited negative traits) that we might unconscionably pass on to our own kids. And be sure to seek counsel from your wives—they'd love to help you in this department.

Oh, and no brooding.

In truth, there's probably no greater gift a father grants his children–other than loving their mother– than the determination to break the cycle of negative generational influences.

For make no mistake, though they won't be die-cast replicas, your boys will imitate you where it matters most; how you respond when angry; your emotional maturity; your listening skills; your compassion for others; your self-control; your priorities; your spirituality; etc.

The good news is that You can break the cycle. Poor attitudes, behaviours & manners of relating don't have to be passed on—But it begins with recognising where a cycle exists.

If possible, this may be a good time to talk to your own father about this.

Do Father Son Projects Together ...Often

Of course, some memories will last longer than others. I built this buggy with my boy when was five. With some custom extension pedals, he had a ball.
Of course, some memories will last longer than others. I built this buggy with my boy when was five. With some custom extension pedals, he had a ball. | Source

Watching vs Doing

Hands up if you take your kids to umpteen different activities every week?

Of course, the goal is for them to discover and develop their natural skills and inherent gifts.

Kid sports, clubs and peer interaction offer great opportunities for growing boys. However, it can all to easily replace meaningful father and son activities. Activities where we move from simply watching our son(s), to actively doing something alongside them. From being simply a chauffeur– observer–fan-club, to being the mentor.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
What boy doesn't want to be a Knight?Making Chain mail armourMy son spent over three months working on this with meMetal sword and shieldStripped down the bike. Got rid of the rust and rebuilt. Here my son is wire brushing down the handle bars readying for a coat of paint.Remote control cars are not only a lot of fun, but they help boys understand electronics and the need to maintain things in good working order.Technic lego is fun for father and son and a great way for kids to express their creativityBuilding an off-road buggy was a lot of work. My son was five at the time, but still loved to help out sorting nuts and bolts, holding things etcFather and son group camping can be great fun if organised well.A simple enough project for most boys over ten. Stilts are easy to make under adult supervision and loads of fun to use.
What boy doesn't want to be a Knight?
What boy doesn't want to be a Knight? | Source
Making Chain mail armour
Making Chain mail armour
My son spent over three months working on this with me
My son spent over three months working on this with me | Source
Metal sword and shield
Metal sword and shield | Source
Stripped down the bike. Got rid of the rust and rebuilt. Here my son is wire brushing down the handle bars readying for a coat of paint.
Stripped down the bike. Got rid of the rust and rebuilt. Here my son is wire brushing down the handle bars readying for a coat of paint. | Source
Remote control cars are not only a lot of fun, but they help boys understand electronics and the need to maintain things in good working order.
Remote control cars are not only a lot of fun, but they help boys understand electronics and the need to maintain things in good working order. | Source
Technic lego is fun for father and son and a great way for kids to express their creativity
Technic lego is fun for father and son and a great way for kids to express their creativity | Source
Building an off-road buggy was a lot of work. My son was five at the time, but still loved to help out sorting nuts and bolts, holding things etc
Building an off-road buggy was a lot of work. My son was five at the time, but still loved to help out sorting nuts and bolts, holding things etc | Source
Father and son group camping can be great fun if organised well.
Father and son group camping can be great fun if organised well. | Source
A simple enough project for most boys over ten. Stilts are easy to make under adult supervision and loads of fun to use.
A simple enough project for most boys over ten. Stilts are easy to make under adult supervision and loads of fun to use. | Source

Afterall, think of all the things you can enjoy together; all the things you can teach them.

Following are a few ideas that I've had success doing with my boy. I'm a bit of a DIY'er, so the activities revolve around making stuff. But utilise your own strengths. What you do is not as important as that you're doing it together.

  • Build Billy-carts
  • Remote Control cars
  • Build an off-road buggy
  • Make a Clone trooper costume
  • Make a Knights costume
  • Build Stilts and learn to walk on them
  • Design and build a catapult
  • Strip down and rebuild a bicycle
  • Participate in a Boy mentoring group with other Dads

No Man is an Island

It takes a village to raise a child

I believe in this folksy wisdom. We do our children a disservice if we don't allow other trusted adults to get involved in their lives and upbringing.

For sons in particular, the experience of spending time with other men in activities that encourage interaction and mentoring can have a great maturing effect in their lives.

No father can be all things to a son. They will have the chance at being the centre of their sons lives –especially in the younger years– but there will be traits, skills, interests and insights that other men are better able to provide.

As their father, you can assist your son in his development by helping them develop relationships with other trusted men.

Tough question time

How close a relationship do you feel you have with your young son?

  • Great, we do many things together
  • Ok, we find time to interact, but not consistantly
  • Not so good. I feel like I'm letting him down.
  • Poor. I really need to make this more a priority
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Boys to Men

A great way get Dads and sons together with other Dads and Sons, is to create or get involved with a a boys mentoring group.

We formed our own with fathers and sons from several church groups. We meet throughout the year with the purpose of shared mentoring of the boys in our group. We call the group, Boys2Men.

Each man has the opportunity to host an event in which they can pass on something they know and can share.

It's a very interactive time, often hilarious and always rewarding. A few of the activities we have so far enjoyed include;

  • Creek fishing
  • Fish preparation and cooking
  • Basic car maintenance
  • Billycart build and race day
  • BMX racing challenge

Billy Cart Plans

Present the boys with simple plans they can follow. Dads can be on-hand to assist.
Present the boys with simple plans they can follow. Dads can be on-hand to assist. | Source

I hosted the Billy-cart racing day.

The goal was to teach the boys how to follow a basic assembly plan in building a Billy-cart and then test their handiwork on the local grassy mountain.

The day included a hilarious mock-auction, building mayhem, lunch together and then racing fun.

Billy-carts or Bust

Click thumbnail to view full-size
things get really boring if kids are waiting tools to be available. Borrow and scavenge, but have enough gear for everyone to keep moving forward.Keep any talks short and/or witty.Throughout, involve the boys as much as possible.Some of the more difficult parts of the Billy-carts I prefabricated. There was still lots for them to do but, more importantly, more time at the end to use them.Each boy was given the same amount of monopoly money which they could then use to bid on the various prefabricated parts.Of course, before bidding they were permitted to inspect the wares.The auction was a great success, and the boys excitement often hilariousFor some reason the blue rear axle and wheels was a popular item, and bidding was furious and funny.Money spent and parts collected, the assembly began.make sure all the safety gear is available and that the kids use it.Only assist when necessary. Dependence breeds hostility; kids love the buzz of accomplishing for themselves. So do adults for that matter.Is there anything more manly than a powertool, grrrYoung-fella will probably remember this time for the rest of his lifeThe boys designed their own stencils and spray-painted them on.Once the paint was dry (use quick-dry spray paint), it was time to visit the mountain of doom.Trek to the topA fearful startFalse startThe terrifying descentTurn confound you, turnwitness the concentrationWitness the terrorWitness the thirstAccidents are to be expected in motor sportAnd the occasional deathSurvivorsDearly departed
things get really boring if kids are waiting tools to be available. Borrow and scavenge, but have enough gear for everyone to keep moving forward.
things get really boring if kids are waiting tools to be available. Borrow and scavenge, but have enough gear for everyone to keep moving forward. | Source
Keep any talks short and/or witty.
Keep any talks short and/or witty. | Source
Throughout, involve the boys as much as possible.
Throughout, involve the boys as much as possible. | Source
Some of the more difficult parts of the Billy-carts I prefabricated. There was still lots for them to do but, more importantly, more time at the end to use them.
Some of the more difficult parts of the Billy-carts I prefabricated. There was still lots for them to do but, more importantly, more time at the end to use them. | Source
Each boy was given the same amount of monopoly money which they could then use to bid on the various prefabricated parts.
Each boy was given the same amount of monopoly money which they could then use to bid on the various prefabricated parts. | Source
Of course, before bidding they were permitted to inspect the wares.
Of course, before bidding they were permitted to inspect the wares. | Source
The auction was a great success, and the boys excitement often hilarious
The auction was a great success, and the boys excitement often hilarious | Source
For some reason the blue rear axle and wheels was a popular item, and bidding was furious and funny.
For some reason the blue rear axle and wheels was a popular item, and bidding was furious and funny. | Source
Money spent and parts collected, the assembly began.
Money spent and parts collected, the assembly began. | Source
make sure all the safety gear is available and that the kids use it.
make sure all the safety gear is available and that the kids use it. | Source
Only assist when necessary.
Only assist when necessary. | Source
Dependence breeds hostility; kids love the buzz of accomplishing for themselves. So do adults for that matter.
Dependence breeds hostility; kids love the buzz of accomplishing for themselves. So do adults for that matter. | Source
Is there anything more manly than a powertool, grrr
Is there anything more manly than a powertool, grrr | Source
Young-fella will probably remember this time for the rest of his life
Young-fella will probably remember this time for the rest of his life | Source
The boys designed their own stencils and spray-painted them on.
The boys designed their own stencils and spray-painted them on. | Source
Once the paint was dry (use quick-dry spray paint), it was time to visit the mountain of doom.
Once the paint was dry (use quick-dry spray paint), it was time to visit the mountain of doom. | Source
Trek to the top
Trek to the top | Source
A fearful start
A fearful start | Source
False start
False start | Source
The terrifying descent
The terrifying descent | Source
Turn confound you, turn
Turn confound you, turn | Source
witness the concentration
witness the concentration | Source
Witness the terror
Witness the terror | Source
Witness the thirst
Witness the thirst | Source
Source
Accidents are to be expected in motor sport
Accidents are to be expected in motor sport | Source
And the occasional death
And the occasional death | Source
Source
Survivors
Survivors | Source
Dearly departed
Dearly departed | Source

Younger men can mentor boys too

In one of our Boys2Men events we utilised the talents of of a local BMX expert. Though a young man, and single, he was someone who had knowledge and skills the boys admired and learnt from.

later, some of the dad's who were mountain bike enthusiasts, took the boys on a trek. The other Dad's readied the barbecue lunch.

My son–who loves BMX–still recalls this as one of his favourite Boys2Men events.

BMX racing Introduction

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Local BMX talent did a great job of passing on a few riding tipsan attentive father and son audienceAdvice given, it was time to rideBalancing skills
Local BMX talent did a great job of passing on a few riding tips
Local BMX talent did a great job of passing on a few riding tips | Source
an attentive father and son audience
an attentive father and son audience | Source
Source
Advice given, it was time to ride
Advice given, it was time to ride | Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Balancing skills
Balancing skills | Source

Remember: The force will be with You ...Always

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My boy loved Star Wars and wanted a costume. We spent literally months together building this.Jedi cousinsOne of the local theme parks had a Stars wars Week. We called and asked if my son could dress up and join the action. He loved it. PS: He's the short clone trooper.
My boy loved Star Wars and wanted a costume. We spent literally months together building this.
My boy loved Star Wars and wanted a costume. We spent literally months together building this. | Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Jedi cousins
Jedi cousins | Source
One of the local theme parks had a Stars wars Week. We called and asked if my son could dress up and join the action. He loved it. PS: He's the short clone trooper.
One of the local theme parks had a Stars wars Week. We called and asked if my son could dress up and join the action. He loved it. PS: He's the short clone trooper. | Source

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6 comments

ainehannah profile image

ainehannah 2 years ago from Dublin

Wonderful, rich feature - fun and fab :-)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Very good counsel for fathers. You included important aspects of father-child relationships. Voted Up.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

A hub to be read by all fathers-to-be. By the time they become fathers, they should know all about being a great father. Sadly, the majority people, and especially men, believe they don't need to qualify themselves for parenthood.

Great hub! May it make an impact on many :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

There is great truth in this article. I was a single parent for fifteen years and I see a great deal of me in my son....thankfully most of it good. :)


quildon profile image

quildon 2 years ago from Florida

Awesome advice here. Too many fathers leave parenting up to the mother thinking that all they have to do is provide the material stuff, but boys need to know that their dad is their friend as well as their parent. Great hub! Voted up, awesome and sharing.


parrster profile image

parrster 2 years ago from Oz Author

@All ~ thanks everyone for your comments and feedback.

@quildon ~ Yes, it seems to be a common male failing that we relinquish so much of our parental responsibility onto our wives. I think there is a lot of confusion in society about what it means to be men, to stand out as a male. Unfortunately many find it easier just to work hard earning a living, than to work hard building meaningful relationships.

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