My wife Kristen and I have the great privilege and responsibility of raising four boys. All four will live under our roof for at least a few more years. Some days those years will feel like an eternity, but I know, in the end, it will seem like they flew by in the blink of an eye. Now is the time to lay the foundations for a lifelong father-son relationship.
When I think about how fast time will pass, I want to make the most of the time we have together. I want to be intentional in how we spend that time and as a loving dad, I want to use it to strengthen our father-son relationship. Here are 4 gifts we all need to give our sons before they become men.
1. A Written Record of How Much You Love Them
I often tell my sons that they’re loved by their mom and dad. I hope I show I love them by my actions. But there are many different options you can choose for how to give your kids a written reminder of your love. Maybe you can record some thoughts in a journal or on the inside cover of some books you’ve read together. The form you choose doesn’t matter. The function does.
If you’re a man of faith, here are a couple of things I do that you might want to try. I write my sons a letter every year on their birthday to recap the year, share some highs and lows, and list some things I’ve prayed for them in the past year. I also have Bible for each of my sons and inside, I record prayers for them in the margin.
2. The Knowledge That They Can Come to You About Anything at Any Time
I want my boys to know when they grow up that their dad—and the father-son relationship—still provides a safe place for them. This means that when they face challenges in school, work, relationships, marriage, and parenting, they can come to me and share. I want to be someone who doesn’t have to be the first to speak and fix them, but instead, someone who tries to listen and understand.
When they face significant decisions in life, opportunities in their career, challenges in their home life, or achievements to celebrate, I hope they’ll see me as one of the first people they’ll share with or seek counsel from.
3. Memories of Great Shared Experiences
When my boys leave the home, I want them to be able to look back at 18 years filled with fun, unique shared experiences with their dad. I want them to have memories of both small, day-to-day moments and big, impact-producing experiences.
We should want our sons to be able to look back and remember that we spent both quality time and quantity time together. That’s why I make sure to plan times when we do puzzles and play games, shoot hoops in the driveway, take family vacations, and spend time away together on father-son weekends.
4. A Right Understanding of How to Care for and Value Women
I hope my boys leave our home with a right view of women. All women are to be valued and respected. We don’t use them for our selfish pleasure or self-validation. This starts with me. I better model this well by the ways I treat my wife and other women.
The time is limited and the opportunity is great. Let’s make the most of the time we have with our sons so they can leave our homes someday with the right gifts from their dad.
Sound off: What most strengthened your father-son relationship, whether with your own dad or your son?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing you would like to do as a family in the next year?”