The Single Dad Experience: Be It To See It
Nice Guys Finish. Period.
I'm going to switch things up just a little bit on this one. I usually try to give advice for single dads that will be good no matter if they have a boy or a girl but this one is for the boys. (Sorry ladies, maybe next time!) By now you should all know my mantra when it comes to raising kids but I'll go over it one more time. No matter if you're raising a little boy or a little girl you have to be the kind of man you want your son to be and be the kind of man you want your daughter to bring home. It sounds simple and it can be but here are just a few things to keep in mind.
I love super heroes. They fight bad guys and save the day and they make it look cool. To my son, I'm a super hero and there is no better feeling. But like a the movies, in order to be a hero you have to become a symbol, something that can not be broken. A man can be beaten or tainted, but a symbol can not. As men it is important that we put on the mask of the men we want to project on to our sons and we do not waver from those principles and ideals. If you smoke, don't let your kid see it. If you curse, don't do it around your child (Or at least get them to understand that some words just aren't for kids) and if you're the type that has all types of women, don't bring them around your kid. We must uphold a strict set of codes that force us to uplift our children. I for example am afraid of a slew of things but I will not let me son see that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I want me son to think that I am without fear, on the contrary, fear can be a good thing when used as proper motivation, I just don't want him to see me get stressed out over the things I am afraid of. I have a huge fear of being alone (surprising when you consider that I'm a single dad, right?) but I can't let me son see how that fear affects me. If I do that then the things that I fear may become the things he fears as well. Instead, I try to teach my son to face his fears head on. The difference of course is that I am there to help him. This helps to build confidence which is something our young men need. A lack of confidence can lead to a lifetime of disappointment. I find myself often wishing I could go back and change the outcome of certain events so that I wouldn't face them in their current fashion but that's because I wasn't confident enough to deal with them when I had the chance. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially my own son. If I have a chance to help him so that he doesn't have to go through what I'm going through then its worth it.
Manners go a super long way when trying to raise a proper gentlemen and in doing so they must learn respect. The funny thing about respect is that it is one of those things in life that can not be given or purchased, it must be earned. The first step in teaching you son respect is to first respect him. Respect the fact that even though he is a child he is still a human being with feelings that matter. Respect him for the fact that he is a product of you so know that you must also respect yourself. If you don't respect yourself then how can you respect your child and in turn how can he respect you? I feel this extends beyond the so called Golden Rule which states that one should do onto others as he would do onto himself. I don't expect anything from anyone so for me I do onto others sometimes better than I do onto myself. When teaching your son to respect others you must also understand that he will only do what you do because he has no other means to see anyone else do it. It doesn't matter what the tv says or what his friends at school are doing. When you have instilled in him what it means to be respectful those principles will last him a lifetime because they will become a part of him that can not be taken away.
This kind of leads me to my next thing which is how to treat a lady. Of course, building off the paragraph above, respect plays a huge role. But here is the thing, you don't want to raise a sucker either. Sometimes people can take a kindness for a weakness and this is the part where we need to teach our young men to be strong. I have always respected the ladies but that doesn't mean I will be a doormat for them either. It was a hard lesson to learn when I was trying to determine if a girl liked me for me or if she just wanted me around to make herself feel better. I remember a girl saying to me, "Why can't more guys be like you?" and I replied, "I'm like me, so why not just get with ME?" It bothered me because I couldn't understand what was happening. I was nice, I was a gentlemen, I opened doors and all that other stuff but I was also lacking in confidence. When we teach our boys about girls (or whatever, cuz ya know, Kels don't judge) it is important that we get to them to understand that not all women are going to see them for the kind of man they are trying to be just yet. Our boys must be confident enough to know that they don't have to settle for the first girl that looks their way. Being confident and being respectful is a powerful combination that will get them a very long way.
Lastly, let the boys be boys. Encourage them in whatever their endeavors may be. Take an active role in their lives and keep the lines of communication wide open. My son and I can talk about anything because he knows I'm there to listen to him. You want to make sure that you aren't too hard on them because that could deter them from wanting to open up to you about certain things. Maybe someone at school is doing something to them that isn't right but they are afraid to tell you because you will get mad. That's never a good feeling. You are their first and last line of defense against this crazy world and if they can't talk to you they will find another outlet that may not be a positive one. Stay dedicated to being the kind of man you know they can be.
Someday your son is going to realize that you aren't a super hero. He will see you as just a man that can be beaten. Hopefully when that day comes though, he'll have the strength to take up your cape and toss it around his neck so that he can continue what you started.