If you read my intro post Fathers Need A Plan To Raise Their Sons, you will recall the breakthroughs I mentioned in my relationships with my children.
I think one of the big “Aha!” moments we all eventually realize is this:
We know most of the things we need to do – we just aren’t doing them.
We don’t need to read another book to get started – we just need to get started with the things we know.
GET STARTED – Period.
We can always read another book if we approach a subject or question where we need some deeper thought, other perspectives, or specific information. But not getting started because we don’t think we are “wise enough” or “qualified” to teach our sons is absurd.
You have learned life lessons, and that is exactly what your son needs to hear about.
Here are 3 conversations you can have with your son right now that will build the relationship between you:
- Responsibility + Maturity lead to Opportunity
Having the information is not enough, one must possess and exhibit other skills and character traits to be allowed bigger more serious opportunities. Explain to your son something pertinent at his age range that he knows he is not currently able to do.
Example: For a 10-13 year old, ask him if he thinks he could drive a car if he could reach all the pedals, controls, etc. They usually think they could to some degree. Now ask him about his experience at driving, and if he would know what to do if the front tire blew out while driving 60 mph. Set up the situation where he’s driving along just fine, then the tire blows and the car starts jerking all over the road. What would he do? Most likely panic and freeze. And if that happens, not only he could get hurt, but others around him as well. Only responsible and mature people that have been trained to handle a car, practiced, and respect the huge dangers inherent to driving should be allowed to drive a car.Then let him know there are many things like this in life, and that’s why sometimes I am going to tell you I don’t think it’s time for you to do that activity, or be in that situation. The key is, you have to know that I love you and out of that love for you I will protect you – not just from physical harm, but from things that can harm your mind and thinking as well.
The big question I have is Do You Trust Me?
If you do, when the time comes when I have to say No, not at this time, you will know I am looking out for your protection, not just keeping you from something. Does that make sense?
Now let him ask questions, or ask him what questions he has. Also, read this post if you haven’t already Son, Do You Trust Me?
- Good, Bad, Better Things
Living your life without stopping to ask yourself Why am I doing this? can lead to regret, and wasted years.
Tell your son about a time in your life where you made a change in your thought process, you broke a habit, or you changed directions. Make sure you think about this example in advance so you can write down the key points you want to get across.
One simple thought I like to use is the Good, Bad, Better Thing exercise. Take your action and ask yourself:
– what is Good about this?
– what is Bad (or could be detrimental) about this?
– is there a Better Thing I could be doing?
Use your example and talk about how you answered these questions, and why you made the change.
Now talk with your son about analyzing some of the things he is doing, and ask him if any things jump to mind where he has made a change for the better. Then ask him if there are other actions or decisions he is making you might be able to discuss to help him make a good decision. It’s all about the conversation, being open and encouraging, and sharing your life experiences so he can relate his situations to you.
- Making Mistakes and Learning
We all make mistakes, and we’re going to make more.
Being honest and open with your son by talking about mistakes you’ve made in your past allows him to know you don’t require him to be “perfect” because you know what he’s going through. He needs to know you expect him to make mistakes, but he must find out what there is to learn from each one so he can make fewer of them by acquiring this wisdom.
Relate to him some mistakes you made as a young man, how you felt, and really focus on what a “goober” you were. Then tell him how you kept from doing that again, what you learned, and how it’s helped you today. Then ask him about some mistakes he’s made that he’s learned from, and how that has helped him as he’s gotten older.
The key here is to be vulnerable, give your example first, tell the lesson you learned, ask him to share one as well, what lessons he’s learned, and how this helps you both to be better men.
Being a great father for your son is often defined by the conversations you have that help him think more deeply, learn more about himself, and give him tools to make good decisions.
You can do that, just get started and be consistent.
If I can help answer any questions or help you get started in these conversations, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
** And don’t forget to leave your Comments below – especially if you can share a time when you had a “breakthrough” conversation with your son.