Father and Son Relationships – Teaching Sons How to be Young Men in the World

Trust and integrity are important in any relationship, so, it does not take rocket science to realise that Father and Son relationships are also based on trust and integrity. When fathering a son trust is integral, as only trust can inspire true intimacy.

Fathering was very different only a few generations ago – before the industrial revolution. We lived in a mostly agrarian society when many more men worked the land or in local small businesses; this close communion with nature and community helped fathers to teach their sons to be young men in the world. It was a more earthy, more nurturing environment than the fast moving times we experience today.  Teaching a son to be the best man he can be, means teaching by example, and men used to have opportunities to do this every day.

They taught their boys a trade, taught them to work the farm, and taught them as part of a community, so, they also had plenty of help. There were grandfathers, uncles, brothers and friends all willing to mentor a boy. When a man was not healthy or able, these ‘surrogate’ fathers stepped in automatically and fulfilled the fathering role.

Today men rush off to the office, often work 12 or more hours a day; may even have more than one job, and although men worked hard in the past, they appear to work even harder today. This leaves young boys to be raised mostly by their mothers, which may isolate them from male role models to a degree.  What seems to have changed is this; that boys are no longer clear about what it means to be a man. The powerful mentorship of previous generations is lacking, and a culture of not asking for help prevails as asking for help in fathering seems to have become taboo.

In circumstances such as these boys get many answers to their unspoken questions from the nearest resources. TV, pop culture, movies, music and of all things – their friends?! This is certainly not ideal, as fathers then also feel lacking as dads.

It is not an easy balancing act to deal with the pressures of work and sons becoming young men. In fact it can be overwhelming for fathers who are the atypical good-guy who wants the best for their family and are trying to go-it alone. Most don’t seek help because of social taboos, and this simply perpetuates any problems.  Anger, depression, broken relationships and abuse may prevent men from becoming good fathers, so, men need to take better care of themselves, in order to be a good father. Here it pays to remember that if we are not good to ourselves, then we can be of very little good to anyone else.

To become more nurturing, patient and compassionate; men need nurturing, compassionate, loving and patient male role models in their lives. The effect from this also benefits wives and daughters; not only raising sons to be young men. There is certainly no shame in asking for help, and fortunately the young fathers of today are starting to realise this important fact. Reach out for the counsel of other men and help your sons to be masculine, confident, and successful men.

The relationship a boy has with his father is one of the most important relationships he will ever have.  It is here that he learns the ‘art’ of being a man, and a dad is a life-long mentor. Guide your son into manhood lovingly – this is what every boy longs for – and despite the fact that the father/son, like all relationships, is never simple, it is certainly worth making the effort for. It is natural for a son to worship his father , and it pays to remember this. Watch the movie ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’, this film is based upon a true story and is a brilliant example of a father son relationship, and how a father tries really hard to be the best dad he can be.

Dr. Wendy M. O’Connor is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Professional Life Coach, Media Consultant, loving wife & parent of an amazing teenager.

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