Recently, I overheard my son talking to one of his friends about political opinions we had discussed as a family. I became concerned when I noticed the strong tone of the conversation—and that my son actually used the word “hate” to describe his feelings and opinions. Thankfully, after talking to him, he realized his poor choice of words. However, it was a humbling reminder to me as a dad that my son picks up on things, positive and negative, verbal and nonverbal, from me.
This is true for all of us. Boys don’t become men, or gentlemen, without coaching and guidance from good men in their lives, especially their fathers. And mean boys don’t become mean without influence either. Are you guilty of inadvertently instilling or encouraging meanness in your son in any of these 4 ways?
1. Making Fun of People in Front of Him
Whether it’s done in jest or out of ill intent, making fun of others in front of your son leaves an impact. It sends a dangerous message that such behavior is acceptable when we see others who are different from us.
2. Losing Your Temper with Him or Others
Very few things are as toxic in a man as uncontrolled anger. This is probably why the Bible’s greatest warning to fathers is not to provoke their children to anger. Many boys grow up with father wounds from a dad’s anger. And many boys carry a father’s anger into their own adulthood and parenting.
3. Responding to Him with Sarcasm
After asking your son to do something, has he ever asked you to clarify? And if so, have you ever responded with a sarcastic or condescending tone, like, “Didn’t I already tell you this?” Sadly, fathers who would never call their sons “stupid” to their faces may inadvertently make their sons feel stupid with sarcasm. The best remedy to sarcasm (and to creating mean boys) is a good dose of patience and humility.
4. Disrespecting Women in Any CapacityMore than your son will ever become what you say, he will become who you are.
There ought to be no room for disrespect of women or girls in your home or in your dealings with your son. This includes the way you interact with your son’s mother and sisters, as well as how you treat and talk about women in general. Boys who grow up to disrespect women usually had poor examples to follow in this area. Think of it this way: How would you feel if your future son-in-law treated your daughter the same way you treat the women in your life now? Remember, your son will probably be someone’s future son-in-law someday.
More than your son will ever become what you say, he will become who you are.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 5 Things Boys Need From Their Moms.
Sound off: What are some ways we could teach our sons to be kind?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it is bad to hate someone?”