tough love parenting

5 Ways Your Son Needs Tough Love

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I can remember doing yard work with my dad as a young boy and trying to “cut corners.” I was quickly met eyeball to eyeball with these words: “Son, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” That was one of the mantras my dad lived by.

While I didn’t like it at the time, I’ve learned to love and live by that phrase myself. I’ve come to appreciate the tough love that my dad sometimes showed me growing up because it’s played a significant part in shaping my character. Here are 5 ways that boys need some tough love parenting.

1. Hold him accountable to be faithful in the little things.

What my dad taught me on that day as a boy was this: “Little things matter. Going above and beyond sets you apart.” The reality is that our boys often want to take the path of least resistance, but that’s one of the reasons they’ve been given dads—for accountability, even in the little things.

2. Call him out when he doesn’t show females respect.

Every boy will test the waters to see what he can get away with around girls or women, and especially toward his sisters or his mother. I remember having to deal with this when my teenage son snapped his sister’s bra strap for the first time. Dads need to pay close attention to any form of this and call their boys to a high standard of respect toward all girls and women. It’s still OK for boys to be expected to hold a door open for their mom or to show respect to their sister. It’s unlikely he’ll suddenly start doing those things later in life as a man.

3. Teach him how to harness the power of his words.

I have three boys, and they often struggle not to use their words to their advantage in the way they speak to others. Unkindness or a lack of self-control with how one speaks can carry enormous weight and need tough love parenting. This is why the book of Proverbs tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” When you hear your son using words to inflict “death” rather than give “life,” call him to the carpet on how he is using his word power irresponsibly. A boy who learns how to harness his words and use them wisely is a boy on the path to becoming a man of character.

4. Don’t allow his anger to go unchecked (both internal and external).

Many families are ruined by a husband’s or a father’s unchecked anger. And most if not all men’s anger started when they were young. Hurt and pain are a natural part of life, and anger is often a natural response. But when a boy doesn’t learn how to properly control and express his anger as a child, he most often carries that anger into every future relationship, leaving destruction in his path. Whether your son’s anger is obvious or quietly hidden, you absolutely can’t allow it to go unchecked. Explain expectations surrounding anger and consistently enforce consequences without apology.

5. Give him hard work to do.

Our boys will not only learn from our example, but also from our guidance.

Most boys will rise to the level of their father’s guidance. I found this to be true with my dad. When he taught me “do the job right,” I gave the extra effort I otherwise wouldn’t have. My dad’s guidance shaped my work ethic. It’s important that we teach our boys to be hard workers, and one of the ways we do that is by giving them hard things to work on. Our boys will not only learn from our example, but also from our guidance.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising a Son.

Sound off: In what areas do you think your son currently needs some tough love?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Are there any areas you think I’m being too easy or too hard on you?”