It was late, probably 10:30 or 11 o’clock, as we walked down the sidewalk from my school. We approached his white Buick, and my dad paused at the driver’s door, then turned back to toss me the keys. My heart skipped a beat. He said, “You’re driving home tonight.” I was 16 years old, and I’d never driven before. An ordinary trip home turned into an extraordinary experience. I don’t think I will ever forget the thrill of catching those keys or feeling the power of the accelerator as I pulled away from the school. Thinking back on that moment reminds me why empowering children is such an important thing for dads to do.
As dads, we often think about big moments we want to share with our sons and rites of passage we want them to experience to help them understand what it means to be a man. As important as rites of passage and rituals can be, much of the work of teaching our sons to be men happens in the ordinary, small moments of life. It’s in those moments that you have the chance to empower him in ways he really needs. Here are 5 ordinary ways to empower your son.
1. Let him share the experience.
Sons want to be where their dads are. He may want to be with you while you shave, when you’re mowing the lawn, helping a friend move, or up bright and early to go fishing on the lake. When sons are younger, they often get left out of these experiences. As he grows up, look for opportunities to ask yours to join you. Knowing you want him to be with you will speak to his heart. Not only will he know you want him around, he’ll know you see him as more than just the little boy he used to be.Working alongside you not only teaches your son the value of work but also shows that you trust him.
2. Ask for his help.
Anyone who owns a house has an endless to-do list of jobs that need to be done. Even though these home repairs might happen more quickly when you do them on your own, invite your son to help you in any way he can. There are few things that thrill boys more easily than the chance to use a power tool while working alongside their dad. Working alongside you not only teaches your son the value of work but also shows that you trust him with important jobs around your home.
3. Point out good examples of manliness.
Fathers and sons often spend time together by watching movies, shows, or sports. While these are often great for killing time, they can also be a chance to empower your son. When he is wowed by a character who shows integrity, virtue, or heroism, tell your son the ways you see those qualities in him. Help him understand that even the greatest heroes fail sometimes and have to try again.
4. Give him a problem to solve.
Instilling the ability to solve problems is central to empowering children. Give your son a chance to use his own skills to fix something around the house. Instead of inviting him to help you, switch roles. Show your son the problem and let him find the solution, helping him in whatever way he might ask you to with the same enthusiasm as he would have while helping you. Not only will your son feel empowered by your trust in him, you might learn something from the way he tackles this problem.
5. Teach him to serve and to sacrifice.
I once read that every man’s mission is to serve and to sacrifice. You can empower your son to do this by being an example of it every day. This might mean holding open doors for others or by doing some chore you or your wife really hates. As your sons observe the ways you put others’ needs ahead of our own, they will feel inspired to try to do that themselves. Make sure you let them know you see their efforts.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so share this iMOM article with your wife: Should You Tell Your Son to Toughen Up?
Sound off: Why is empowering children an important thing to do as a dad?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some of your favorite things to do together?”