Every great dad was once a son. This is a profound thought considering how many women dream of marrying a “great guy” with the hopes he will be a “great dad” to their future children. The impression women have of their sons in the role of mom is everlasting. However, many moms do not realize the impression they have on their sons until it is too late. Raising a son that ultimately, with time, support, and accountability, will grow into a great dad is one of the greatest accomplishments a mom can have.
Here are five things moms can do to cultivate their sons into great dads:
- Provide Opportunities for Your Son to be Responsible
Raising responsible sons translates to responsible dads who take the responsibilities that come along with fatherhood seriously. When situations arise for your son to have a responsible moment in his life, take the time to have a conversation with him about whether he made the right choice or not. Have a dialogue with your son about the situation at hand and shed light on both sides of the situation. The long-term effects of your decision to have conversations centered on responsibility will help your son process information, develop critical thinking skills, and create character.
- Hold Your Son Accountable
This can be very difficult as a mom. There are times when a quick fix is easier than the long-term work that may be required to hold our sons accountable with everyday decisions and actions. We have to look at the long-term benefits even though this sometimes requires sacrifices of our time or may be an inconvenience. A great example is what you do when your 10-year-old son gets in trouble in school. Teaching him how to be accountable means holding him to the consequences of his actions. If the decision is that he cannot play with his video games for four days, you remain committed to not bending even if he throws a tantrum, or starts to behave well on day three.
- Engage in Fatherhood Conversations with Your Son
One of the best ways to teach our sons values, behaviors, and our expectations we need to have direct conversations with them. We have so many parenting opportunities where we could easily interject a great teaching moment with our sons. During your conversations with your son, look for opportunities to interject guidance like “When you grow up and become a dad…” or “As a future dad you will have to…” or “When you do things like this it makes me so very happy because I know you will be a great dad one day.”
- Love Your Son in the Same Capacity You Want Your Son to Love
As mom’s we are naturally nurturers. When raising sons to be great fathers, we have to be aware of our actions with our sons. Moms have a tendency to mistakenly justify our overbearing and “babying” of our sons as love. Healthy love allows us to love our sons enough to make the necessary parenting decisions and take actions that create strong character in our sons versus making our sons feel better in the moment. There is a distinct difference between encouraging our sons in a negative situation and holding them accountable versus letting them get away with negative actions.
- Sons Become What They Live
As moms, we need to be strategic about how we are parenting our sons. Ensuring our sons develop the characteristics of a great dad by seizing every moment as a teaching moment. There is a popular poem by Dorothy Law Nolte called “Children Learn What They Live”(link is external). Ms. Nolte gives great examples of how specific actions children experience, will create long lasting positive or negative characteristics in children. This poem is a great place for moms to start.
Tamara N. Varella is a single mom with four children. Her 17-year-old son, Kasai Guthrie, is the founder of We Need Our Fathers(link is external) campaign that restores father and child relationships.