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Mentoring Boys. Tips for Dads
One son, two son, three son, more...
How many sons do you have?
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.
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.
Be Honest About Yourselve
Are there things about yourself you'd rather your son didn't imitate?
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
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.
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?
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
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 BustClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 IntroductionClick thumbnail to view full-size
Remember: The force will be with You ...AlwaysClick thumbnail to view full-size
- The Science of Fatherhood: Why Dads Matter | LiveScience
Fathers have an important influence on their kids' lives, sometimes affecting their development even more than mothers.
- Six Obstacles to Father Involvement—and How to Overcome Them | Greater Good
A psychologist offers six tips to help dads be the fathers they want to be.