raising a strong son

4 Strengths Your Son Thinks Are Weaknesses

My youngest son loves to wrestle. He’d do it for hours if I could keep up with him. It usually starts with his sneaking up and tackling me onto a bed or couch. There, he’ll try to pin me. I usually retaliate with a bear hug. Once he wriggles himself free, he tries to pin me again, and the roughhousing continues. Though he can’t quite pin me yet (that day is coming), the sound of his laughter is the best part.

There’s a lot to be said about the time dads spend wrestling our sons. It’s both quality time and an opportunity for our sons to measure their strength against ours. As he gets stronger, I want him to understand his own strength as a gift to respect and treasure. But while I’m raising a strong son, I also want him to know there are some strengths that will seem weak to him at first glance. Here are 4 strengths our sons might think are weaknesses.

1. Asking for Help

Despite the stereotypes to the contrary, the sons we raise should know there is no shame in asking for help. The strongest men are often also the most humble because they see their own limits and know who they can lean on. In the process of raising our families, most men discover many places we can go when we need some help. Our sons will see this as an asset when they see us take the car into the shop or go to the doctor for problems that are beyond our abilities.

2. Being Vulnerable

Many men go through life afraid to share their emotions and fears. This can leave them feeling isolated and overwhelmed in difficult circumstances. Healthy men find people with whom they can be vulnerable and in doing so learn they don’t have to carry emotional burdens by themselves. Raising boys who understand the importance of being vulnerable opens them up to forge deep friendships and more intimate relationships throughout their lives.

3. Apologizing (and Forgiving)

Our sons need to learn not to be afraid to say “I’m sorry.” There is great strength in being willing to apologize to others. A willingness to apologize means we admit we aren’t perfect and we can do better. When we teach our sons not to minimize, rationalize, or deny that they’ve done something wrong, we teach them to put relationships ahead of their pride. Boys who grow up knowing that “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” are a part of daily life are more readily going to apologize when necessary. They’re also more likely to forgive others (and themselves) when bad things inevitably happen.

4. Serving People in Need

Boys need to learn the importance of serving those in need. Our culture tends to shape people who are self-centered. But there is strength in those who are willing to see the needs of others and then do whatever we can to help them. Whether it’s shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk or serving a meal in a soup kitchen, when acts of service become a regular part of a boy’s life, he will grow up to see this as ordinary and expected. He is also more likely to be grateful for what he has.

Sound off: What are other keys to raising a strong son?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who is the strongest person you know?”