Things Every Boy Should Hear From Their Father At Home

As parents, we do a lot to teach our children how we’d like them to behave, and we try to explain right from wrong, but often, the best way to teach is by example. Children really are “monkey see, monkey do” learners who pick up on others’ behaviors more than they might let on.

When raising sons, there are certain things that fathers can say or do that can help them grow into emotionally mature, respectful adults over time.

Saying Kind Words About Partners

man kissing woman's forehead
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Hian Oliveira
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Hian Oliveira

It’s important to show verbal and physical signs of kindness and appreciation for your partner. Tell them you’re thankful for them, compliment their hard work, and praise their best qualities.

Why Is This Important?

Couple on roof holding hands
Photo Credit: Scopio / Nikita Deft
Photo Credit: Scopio / Nikita Deft

The relationship you have with your partner acts as a “blueprint” for how your son will see relationships in the future; from a young age, you can instill ideals of respect, kindness, and appreciation of partners that he can carry forward into his own future endeavors.

Admitting To Struggle/Failure

man with laptop looking stressed
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tim Gouw
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tim Gouw

While it can be tempting to come across as a superhero to your son, it’s important that you show that you also have struggles and difficulties in life, and sometimes, despite your best efforts, you do fail.

Why Is This Important?

boy with hands over your face
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Sprat
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Sprat

It’s important that your son understands that it’s okay to sometimes have difficulties in life, whether in school, sports, or other activities. If your child doesn’t see a positive role model have struggles and face failure, they might grow up trying to maintain an unhealthy façade of perfection.

A Framework For How To Solve Problems

man with glasses look up confidently
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Lucas Favre
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Lucas Favre

When you do have problems, it’s important that you make your efforts to resolve them very visible and clear. Talk through your problems out loud so your son can see and hear your process.

Why Is This Important?

Boy in blue crew neck shirt
Photo Credit: Scopio / Eva Ozkoidi
Photo Credit: Scopio / Eva Ozkoidi

In seeing someone else go step-by-step to analyze a situation, consider possible steps forward, and create a solution to an issue, they can learn a general formula to approach their own problems.

Talking About Your Emotions

man sitting on rock wall talking to son
Photo Credit: Susan Wood / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Susan Wood / Getty Images

It’s important to visibly show and talk about a full spectrum of emotions in front of your sons: clearly express your joy, disappointment, fears, frustrations, and other feelings in a way that’s easy for your son to understand.

Why Is This Important?

young boy smiling
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jeremiah Lawrence
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jeremiah Lawrence

Men regularly score lower on tests gauging emotional intelligence in comparison to their female counterparts. You can help your son understand and regulate his own emotions from a young age by leading by example.

Requests For Help

Man in green shorts carrying boys on back
Photo Credit: Scopio / Victoria Favron
Photo Credit: Scopio / Victoria Favron

Make an obvious effort to ask others for help in front of your son(s). Ask your partner for advice in front of the kids, request help lifting and moving something from a friend or family member, etc.

Why Is This Important?

Man in red jacket holding boy in yellow jacket on grass field
Photo Credit: Scopio / Sanne Paul
Photo Credit: Scopio / Sanne Paul

While young girls are often encouraged to ask for help, young boys are less likely to do so. Visibly asking for help can encourage your sons to be more open to doing the same and establishing a healthy support system later in life.

Displays Of Empathy

man hugs boy in water on beach
Photo Credit: Scopio / Melina Londero
Photo Credit: Scopio / Melina Londero

Think out loud about how people have different perspectives, and try to imagine what other people are going through when your son is nearby. You can even do this as an activity together when addressing a social problem your son is experiencing.

Why Is This Important?

man puts hand on another's shoulder in comfort
Photo Credit: Unsplash / NONRESIDENT
Photo Credit: Unsplash / NONRESIDENT

It ties back into emotional intelligence. Understanding others’ perspectives, feelings, and experiences is essential not only to being able to effectively communicate in social situations, but also to being kind, compassionate people as they grow older.

Seeing You Cry

Man crying
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tom Pumford
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tom Pumford

Despite instinctually wanting to hide your most vulnerable moments from your kids, let your son see you at your most upset and disheartened without attempting to cover up the tears.

Why Is This Important?

teen boy crying
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Christian Erfurt
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Christian Erfurt

Men and boys face a lot of stigma when it comes to crying, with many people perpetuating the “strong and stoic” stereotype. This is damaging and can lead to boys expressing negative emotions in unhealthy ways, like through anger and violence.

Creative/Imaginative Thinking Out Loud

man sketching
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Brad Neathery
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Brad Neathery

It can be simple things like going out of your way to imagine clouds as different shapes, encouraging finger-painting or drawing, or playing with regular Lego blocks—not designed sets—with your son.

Why Is This Important?

boy with paint all over hands
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Markus Spiske
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Markus Spiske

From a young age, many boys are discouraged from pursuing more creative or imaginative interests and are instead funneled into STEM-based or athletic hobbies, stunting their creative growth. You can help them be more well-rounded with just a few small pushes.

Explanations About Friendships

men high fiving
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tyler Nix
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tyler Nix

Talk about your friendships with other men in clear terms. Explain why you’re good friends: is the other person trustworthy? Are they respectful to you and others? Make it clear that friendships extend beyond simply having fun together.

Why Is This Important?

boys playing outside in field
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jordan Whitt
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Jordan Whitt

By sharing what makes a good friendship, you can also spark your son to consider his friendships and help him think critically about how his friends treat him, helping him form healthier, more respectful friendships in the present and future.

Descriptions Of Preparation/Processes

FAMILY FATHER MOTHER SON DAUGHTER LOADING CAR AND TRAILER FOR VACATION SUMMER OUTDOOR
Photo Credit: H. Armstrong Roberts / ClassicStock / Getty Images
Photo Credit: H. Armstrong Roberts / ClassicStock / Getty Images

While it’s definitely easier to get everything ready on your own, make an effort to include your son in planning processes. For example, when preparing for a beach day, verbally run through supplies you need with him, like sunscreen, towels, and chairs.

Why Is This Important?

Vacation packing. Suitcase neatly packed on bed of pre teenage boys summer clothes, coloring book, pens, electronic game, iPad, headphones and fluffy toy neck rest.
Photo Credit: Lewis Mulatero / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Lewis Mulatero / Getty Images

Integrating practices of preparation, thinking ahead, and creating mental processes can help your son practice self-discipline in a variety of tasks and help them become more self-sufficient at a younger age.

Standing Up For Others Against Bullies

soccer player steps in to protect player in fight
Photo Credit: Christof Koepsel / Bongarts / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Christof Koepsel / Bongarts / Getty Images

Obviously, you shouldn’t be jumping into fights in front of your child, but politely standing up for others in front of your son is an important behavior to demonstrate and a good example to set.

Why Is This Important?

Boy Ridiculing Another
Photo Credit: William Gottlieb / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images
Photo Credit: William Gottlieb / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images

In leading by example, you help empower your son to stand up to people around him who are mistreating them or others. Starting this behavior from a young age will cause him to grow into a man with good values and convictions.

Praise For Working Hard

boy doing homework
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt

When you can tell your son has been putting a lot of effort into learning a new skill, trying to do better on school work, or practicing hard at a hobby, tell him how proud you are of all his hard work.

Why Is This Important?

boy kicking soccer ball
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Baylee Gramling
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Baylee Gramling

Rather than celebrating outcomes (e.g., goals scored and test grades), celebrate the amount of time and effort your child has dedicated to self-improvement. This not only encourages a good work ethic as they get older, but it also ensures that they feel that your love and affection isn’t conditional on “winning.”

Taking Accountability For Mistakes

man looking off into distance
Photo Credit: Unsplash / David Billings
Photo Credit: Unsplash / David Billings

When you mess up, make it clear that you acknowledge your error. Ensure that your son sees you taking accountability for your missteps, clearly discerning the error, and finding ways to move forward from it.

Why Is This Important?

boy looking out into distance thoughtfully
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Japheth Mast
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Japheth Mast

As a society, we tend to hold young boys less accountable for their actions, using phrases like “boys will be boys.” Instead, encourage them to take accountability for their actions and mistakes so that they can grow into responsible men.

Apologizing

Man in blue long sleeve shirt helping young boy in similar shirt with collar
Photo Credit: Scopio / Caleb Andrews
Photo Credit: Scopio / Caleb Andrews

When you catch yourself hurting another person or making a mistake, make a clear apology to them. It’s also important that you apologize directly to him when you act in a harmful way towards him or are wrong.

Why Is This Important?

man hugging woman
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Глеб Ефимов
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Глеб Ефимов

It’s important to encourage your child to learn that they deserve respect from everyone they meet, but this also sets a precedent that they should apologize when they mess up too; this will help them form healthier relationships in the future.

“I Love You”

Family walking on road
Photo Credit: Scopio / Rikki-Lee Wrighson
Photo Credit: Scopio / Rikki-Lee Wrighson

Men in general tend to use the three-word phrase less than their female counterparts, but as the male role model in his life, you should ensure your child knows you love them by regularly saying so.

Why Is This Important?

male friends sitting together on cliff
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Matheus Ferrero
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Matheus Ferrero

Normalizing men saying “I love you” to each other in familial or platonic ways encourages open communication of feelings of affection. Love is an important part of life, and you should show that from the start.