Every boy grows up leaning into the words of his father.
Sometimes as men, we do not fully understand how impactful our words and actions are to the sons we bring into the world. Boys learn basically in two critical ways: by watching their father’s actions and by listening to his words. Here are a few of the greatest words a father can say to his son.
I am proud of you.
Who doesn’t like to hear these words? They need to be genuine and heartfelt to have true meaning, but every son does something that will make his father proud. Have you told your son that you are proud of him lately?
You are really good at _______________.
Even the biggest, clumsiest, nerdiest kid on the planet is good at something. Often we try to fit our sons into the box that we lived in as a kid. If you were great at sports, we tend to push our sons into athletic endeavors. If a sport is not their area in which to excel, they are going to feel like a whale with no tale. They will flounder and struggle and become completely frustrated.
On the other hand, have you noticed how your son lights up when you notice him doing something well? If you do not know what they are good at, help them find something and then praise him when he succeeds.
You were created for something special.
Provide your son with a vision and curiosity for the future. It is easy with our busy schedules to wait until they become teenagers before we start thinking about their futures. Start early and encourage them to think about what they want to become.
I love your mother more than any other woman on the planet.
Every father wants their sons to become great husbands. As their father, you demonstrate this with your actions and your words towards your wife, their mother. By telling your son that you love your wife on a regular basis, your son will see that it is important to you that you have a loving relationship with the most important woman in your life. Your son will want to do the same when he finds his future wife.
Let me tell you about the birds and the bees.
As a father, these are probably the most reluctant words that will ever come out of our mouth. They are also some of the most important words that will come out of our mouths. By the way, this is not a one-time conversation. With today’s sexualized culture and the Internet, you need to start this conversation much earlier than you are probably thinking.
Covenant Eyes, an Internet filtering company, reports that children’s average age of first exposure to Internet pornography is 11. Your son probably already knows more than you think at this age. These conversations should be age appropriate and frequent up until marriage. Just because you never had the talk, does not get you off the hook with your son.
I messed up.
Since I do not know any perfect fathers, I am going to assume that you mess up occasionally too. We all make mistakes. If your son is involved with or witnesses one of your mistakes, make sure you sit him down and tell him that you screwed up. Be sure to also let him know what you learned from your mistake. This is a valuable lesson about honesty and integrity with yourself and others. This will teach him that he doesn’t have to be perfect to be a great dad.
I am sorry.
These are three of the most powerful words that can come from a father’s lips. When you hurt your son in some way, or you make a mistake that affects him, be sure that he hears you apologize.
I remember as a young boy receiving quite a spanking for something that I had not done. I also remember that my father later came to me and apologized and said he was sorry. It almost erased the feeling of my sore behind. It did erase the hurt in my soul knowing that I had done nothing wrong. It removed my anger and confusion and taught me that it is important to apologize when we hurt someone.
Respect, honor and cherish every girl you date because she might be your future wife.
Boys need to know how to treat a girl. Too much of what they see on television, in the movies and on the Internet portrays the wrong way of treating women. Girls and women are not objects created to satisfy men.
Women are beautiful creations designed to live fulfilling and honorable lives. As your son grows interested in girls, teach him at an early age that he should be respectful and honoring at all times.
When you think you have found the one, let’s get together and talk.
Choosing your life-long mate is the most important decision you will ever make as a man. Who did you seek out when you thought you had found the girl? If you were really close to your dad, he was likely the first person you told.
Didn’t you have a million questions you wanted to ask someone, but you were totally freaked out about asking anyone? Since we don’t lay the groundwork for this moment, sons are often leery about discussing this critical life decision. How proud would you be as a father, if you had instilled enough trust between yourself and your son, to know you could talk about his decision of choosing his future wife?
You are now a man.
As I talk to men around the country, I ask them this question. When did you become a man? It is very rare that I get a specific answer. Men usually point to an event such as, “when I purchased my first car,” “when I moved out,” or “when I was married.”
These are good examples of activity associated with becoming an adult, but when did they become a man? When did they know that they had crossed from being an adolescent into becoming an adult? Men that had a father that told them, “You are now a man,” can remember clearly the date, time and place where this occurred. It is a rite of passage that so few of us as men experience, and one that is necessary for your son to enter the realm of manhood.
I respect your decisions.
As your son matures, marries and begins his family, it is important for you, as the father, affirm his decisions. Of course, if he is making some bad decisions, you have every right to express your disapproval in a loving way, but you do not have the right to make the decisions for him or his family. Love your son enough to let him make his own mistakes. Isn’t that how you learned to be so smart? When your son makes good decisions, let him know.
I am proud of the man you have become.
I don’t know a man alive who doesn’t still love to hear his father say, “I am proud of you!” If you are 60 and your father is 80, it is still sweet music to your ears to hear your dad say those words.
We are now in the third generation of boys where 50 percent have grown up with an absentee father, a once-every-other-weekend father or no father present at all.
Many boys are not learning how to become men by watching and listening to their fathers. If you are one of these boys and your dad was not present like he should have been, you can change the outcome for your son. The hole in your heart that your daddy was supposed to fill doesn’t have to be repeated for your son. You can change this by doing the right things and saying the right words.
Jerry Wright is a NewsOK contributor, an ordained minister, author and business leader. He also serves as a speaker and venue moderator at one of America’s largest Christian men’s gatherings at Oklahoma’s Falls Creek “Rewired” conference.
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