Fatherhood Programs: Ten Things a Boy Learns from His Father
In my fatherhood programs and conversations, dads always comment that they are amazed what their sons have learned from them “when I never even talked about that.” Fathers, while you might think you only teach your son when you are talking to him, he is watching you and learning from your actions from a very early age. He’s learning these 10 things from you whether you think you are teaching or not.
1. How to learn.
For many boys, dad is the role model to follow for education. If dad talks positively about education and continues to pursue his own learning, then the son will see this as important. If the dad disdains learning, the son will, too. While there are many factors that play into school success for a boy, dad’s attitude toward formal learning is a foundational aspect.
2. How to treat women.
How a boy’s dad acts toward and talks about women will directly influence the son’s view of women. This applies to both the right and wrong way to behave. A man who treats women with respect will create a son who knows the right way to behave with women in the future.
3. How to play fair.
There are gracious ways to win and lose at both games and business. A dad who is living out some old issues and “must win” in every situation will create a son who will mimic that same behavior. This starts very early in life, with angry boys starting in the sandbox.
4. How to control anger.
Dealing with anger is probably the one thing that unites men on this planet across all categories. That angry boy mentioned in number 3 above needs his dad to step in and take control. While it is certainly normal that all men get angry, does your son see you remain in control of the angry actions you take?
5. How to treat others.
When you encounter the homeless on the street, how do you react? Do you treat the homeless with the same respect you show to your coworkers? People are people and your son learns about equality from you.
6. How to make a decision.
Does your son see you ask questions, weigh options and talk with others? Or, does he only see you rush headlong into the unknown? Which do you want him to do when he is older?
7. How to take risks.
On the other hand, do you always play it safe? While home should be a place for comfort and security, the world will sometimes require your son to “bet it all.” When he thinks of you, will he recall a man afraid of choice or one who takes calculated risks?
8. How to make priorities.
“My kid never spends time with his family.” He learns that behavior from dad. If you have put your work before your family, then in those adolescent years ahead, he will not make time for you.
9. How to drink.
As a dad, do you pride yourself on how many alcoholic drinks you can slam down? When your boy is faced with his first encounters with alcohol, do you want him to imitate your behavior? When he is in college, will he be trying to keep up with his “old man” who drinks like a proverbial fish? Or, will your son remember his responsible dad?
10. How to drive.
As an experienced driver, there is probably a certain comfort level you have attained in your driving, perhaps even making it look like a casual experience. Your teenager will make good driving decisions based on how he sees you drive. He’s been paying attention to how you drive long before you were aware of it. What’s he going to recall: casual indifference to the road and laws or a responsible man who made adult choices?
Dad, your boy is watching you. What is he seeing?