We originally posted this back around Father’s Day but with New Year’s around the corner, we thought some of these might make good resolutions and things you can commit to doing with your son as you head into the New Year. So here are 8 things that every parent should do with your son.
Every parent should be his son’s hero. With that in mind, here are our best suggestions for how to help you create moments that your son will remember and build off for a lifetime.
It can be anything. A birdhouse. A treehouse. A fort. Literally anything. Give him some nails and wood or fabric and a sewing machine or paint and glitter. Then teach them how to do something with it. Remember the most important thing is not what it is you’re building. Or even if it turns out good. What is important is that you work on a project together and learn to plan, organize, mess up, improvise and everything else involved with learning how to create.
Grow Facial Hair Together
We advise that you start this one once they get out of elementary schools. But when they come of age and they get pass the fuzz and into the stubble, do a No Shave November with them. Rock a beard together. Or better yet, channel your inner Tom Sellecks and sport matching mustaches. Either way, you win. And while his friends are shaving their arms and chest, he gains the ability to level up his man credentials.
Teach Him About Consent
This should have always been important for parents to teach their son, but unfortunately it often slipped through the cracks or parents outright avoided it. But consent is a powerful idea and lesson that every son should learn and the sooner the better. Too often boys grow up to be men without ever learning this important rule and end up doing and saying things with other people without their permission. While there is no set age as to when it is appropriate to have this conversation with your son, we began talking to our son about it when he was 4 or 5 years old in the context of toys and taking things out of other people’s hands. As he gets older, we have layered in more nuanced conversations about other people’s bodies and how our words and actions can do potentially do them harm or do good. And as he continues to get older, we’ll continue to layer in the more age appropriate examples. But the important thing is that however you choose to have this conversation, you find the words and context that work for you and don’t avoid it.
Show Him How To Be A Gentleman
This should hopefully be an easy one for you. And while it is important to teach him the importance of manners and opening doors for ladies. Dig deep. Get into what it means to be a true gentleman. I am biased. So I would focus on the what it means to be a Southern gentleman by teaching him how to wear a tie. How to be truly hospitable and open your home to friends and even enemies. How to uphold justice and what is good and right. It may sound romanticized but your son could do a lot worse than rediscovering the lost art of being a gentleman.
Tell Him Exaggerated Stories
Exaggerated stories expand our imaginations. There is a fine line between lying and being a great story teller. So don’t be a liar. But every story you share should be teeming with possibility, adventure, and big colorful adjectives. Teach him how to entertain an audience and then win them to his side. Exaggeration is more than fluff. It opens us up the possibility of a bigger story we can live into.
Spend A Weekend Camping Together
Unplug. And when you’ve unplugged. Double check that you have unplugged everything. In this day of constant communication and technology swarming around us and through us, it is important to remember the value of solitude and the earth. Camping is a great way to (re)establish that rhythm. Sit around a fire in conversation or sit in silence staring at embers. Walk through a stream. Or simply sit and read. But get outside and remember what connects us to the ground and places we live.
Cry In Front Of Him
Men are conditioned not to cry. From the playground to our relationships, it is easier for us to keep our feelings in check than to be open to the full range of emotions we may experience in life. For some people it is easy to cry. For others, it is not easy. The point is not to make him a cryer or a non-cryer. The point is for you to be teach him the importance of connecting with every emotion he feels and channeling them in healthy ways. So be open in front of him. And if that means crying, then cry him a river.
Teach Him A Simple Recipe To Cook For Someone He Loves
Every man should know how to cook. And while every man does not have to be a chef he should at least be able to put together four or five basic meals and one or two meals that while simple, really know how to impress. So get in the kitchen and fumble around with a recipe and figure out what works because at some point he is going to need to impress someone he loves. And what better way to their heart than a delicious meal.