becoming a real man

Preparing Sons for Manhood as a Single Dad

Be prepared. This is the Boy Scouts’ motto. It should also be the calling for every young man as he ventures into manhood—spearheaded by his father to help get him there.

As a father, you carry great weight when it comes to influencing the way your son views himself as a man, how he treats women, and his self-confidence. He’s counting on you to navigate him through life’s uncertainties in becoming a real man. Here are a few quick tips for single dads raising sons—whether alone or in a co-parenting agreement.

Finding His Identity

“I’ve learned that simple walks with my father around the block when I was a child…did wonders for me as an adult.”—Andy Rooney

This quote really emphasizes the point of how important father-son time is. Dad, engaging actively in your son’s life will lead to him gaining greater self-confidence, a healthy perspective of masculinity, and reduce the possibility of his involvement in risky behaviors. Whether it’s breakfast on a Saturday morning, working on the car, playing games, or as stated above, simple walks—they all add up tremendously in the upbringing of a confident young man.

If Mom Is Not Present

Whether she’s physically or emotionally absent, a mother provides a need in a young man’s life that only she can fill—like us dads filling the needs only we can. Talk about his mom in a positive and respectful way. If that’s a stretch now, hold your tongue and don’t say anything at all. Help him to honor his mother. Be creative whenever possible, such as making her a card or gift for special occasions. Encourage your son through age-appropriate touch and affection. Give him the nurturing he desires. Your boy will view all women with the same manner you model. Let him see you open doors for ladies, anything that models chivalry or courtesy will go a long way.

Finding a strong mother-figure to be in his life can be a great move as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean someone you are dating, though that may happen eventually. Is there currently a close family member or friend he can relate to within healthy boundaries to fill in those mother gaps?

Preparing Him For The Battle Ahead

It’s no secret we live in a hyper-sexualized culture. I mentor a middle school boy. One day I talked with my wife about the difference between the way girls dress in elementary school versus middle school. She reminded me that my mentee sees that every day. How will you talk with your son about the proper way to treat women and help keep his eyes and heart protected? Even with a smaller amount of parenting time, you can be influential here—but it must remain a front-burner issue and delivered in a way he will understand.

Similarly, when we fathers hold fast to our integrity regarding protecting our own hearts and eyes, we are much stronger in living truth out before our children. No doubt single dads have their fill of sexual temptation too. How much more will a growing boy face and how will you lead him through it? The more equipped you are to face the battle of sexual temptation the easier it will be to have confident talks with your son. We’re able to impart solid wisdom when we are living in integrity ourselves.

You can be the standard that your son strives for as a man. If you fall short, begin making any necessary changes today. Don’t be intimidated by this calling. Rather, embrace it and live it out for your son.

Sound Off

What ways can you begin today to prepare your son for manhood?

Matt Haviland

Matt Haviland writes to reach single dads in the community. He lives with his wife and daughter in Grand Rapids, MI.

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Huddle up with your son and ask, “What do you think it means to be a real man?”

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