I learned a lot from my father. I’m one of America’s fortunate sons who had a loving father who was around to raise me. I know that not everyone I know had that opportunity. Now that I am an adult I am determined to be a good husband, man and father so my son can have a strong foundation for becoming a capable adult.
Some lessons fathers teach their children come from sitting down and explaining how life works. But most lessons children learn from their fathers come simply by watching how we act every day. There are thousands of ideals and practices that we need to teach our children, but here are five that don’t need to get lost in the process of life.
1) The Right Way to Treat Women - Boys need to become men who respect women. I don’t mean for only the purposes of dating and marriage. We as fathers need to teach our boys to respect the most important woman in their lives, their mother. This can be an area where you lead by example and show your sons that their mother’s ideas, emotions and discipline are to be respected and appreciated. Teach your sons that every woman in their life is to be respected, just as they would treat their mother. Give your sons the foundation to respect their future teachers, bosses and girlfriends.
2) The Value of Money - When I was young I heard older people talking about how my generation doesn’t know the value of a dollar. Now that I am an adult looking at people just 10 years younger, I say the same thing. Teaching your children about how to value and manage their money is a lifelong lesson.
To start, when your son gets money for his birthday, take him to a store and let him dream until his heart’s content. If he only has $20 and wants a $25 gigantic dump truck, then explain to him that he simply doesn't have enough money to buy it. Tell him that he can try to buy something else or save his money and come back another day. Also at this young age let your son know he can buy clothes and snacks with his money too. Money doesn’t have to always equal toys.
When your boy is older, give him chores to complete so he can earn an allowance. Do not GIVE your kid an allowance. Make him EARN his allowance. If he fails to do the chores, then he fails to earn his wages. Life is like that. Better he learn it from you then his first employer. Then when he is old enough to work, tell him to get off the couch and get a job. These lessons about finances will serve him well beyond the years he is in your home.
3) Safety Around a Firearm - As a parent you know that one day you will have the awkward talk about sex. And you know you will talk to your children about the perils of drugs and alcohol too. You do this because you want your children to be educated on what to do and to make smart, safe choices. So why do parents rarely speak to their kids about gun safety?
You might assume that if you don’t have a gun, then your child will never be around one. But you also taught your child what to do if they are offered drugs even though there are there is not a drug dealer in your home. The same logic applies to both situations. If you support the Second Amendment or not, children in America need to be taught how to be safe around guns. At an early age children need to be told what to do if they encounter a gun without an adult. The process is simple: stop, don’t touch, run away and tell a grown up. For a great way to discuss this with your children, visit Eddie Eagle. And if you want to know how to store your firearm safely, visit Project Child Safe. Only you can determine when your children are mature enough for this conversation.
4) How to be a Good Driver - If your children are still watching Sesame Street and need a step stool to reach the sink, you may think that a driving lesson is way off in the future. While it will be a long time before your children get behind the wheel to officially learn how to drive, teaching your children how to drive begins in their preschool years.
Learning good driving habits comes from the example you set as a parent. If you don't want your kids to text and drive, then you don’t do it. If you always want your kids to be safe on the road, then obey the speed limit and be courteous to other drivers. Lead by example and show your children what good driving looks like. If you do it right, your young ones will have a decade of good driving instruction under their belt before they ever get their permit.
5) How to Live in Faith - This will be the most important lesson you teach your sons. Living a life centered around the love of Christ is essential for your sons to learn from you. As a father, and a man, you will fail, you will be angry, you will be tempted and you will sin. Many people know Romans 3:23. It tells us “for all of sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So how can we possibly teach our sons how to be Christians if we are going to sin? Many people forget Romans 3:24 “and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
As a father, do not fear a life that does not reach the glory of God. Instead remember Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Take God with you on your journey of fatherhood. Do not be afraid, be courageous. You sons will learn to take God with them.
Read the Bible and pray with your children. Teach them the word of God. Let your example be one that they learn from. Pray of opportunities to share your faith in action and in word. Show your sons the joy that comes from knowing and loving God.
For more ways to engage your kids, check out 10 Ways to Connect with your Kids. To get tips on fatherhood and family protection sent right to your inbox, consider The Secure Dad Field Notes.