Here's to You, Dad

. March 15, 2013.

10 Ways a Father Can Nurture His Son

1.  Be intentional.

Make a list of the skills, attitudes, and values you hope to instill in your son by the time he leaves home. Examples might include the ability to delay gratification, prayer, basic auto maintenance, thankfulness, a work ethic, or family togetherness.

2.  Be a model for healthy expression of emotions.

Dads need to help their sons regulate and express their emotions in a responsible way. Start by getting comfortable with showing your own emotions (this may take some work!) Then be a positive role model for expressing emotions, and for regulating anger.
3.  Model and monitor respect.

Many young men have lost a sense of respect, and it especially shows in their speech. We hear them trash talking, swearing, or denigrating women. Dads need to monitor the way their sons are talking, and teach them to use their speech for positive ends-like articulating thoughts and feelings, building relationships, giving encouragement and speaking words of life and peace. Dads also need to be a model for respecting authority.

4.  Show love and affection.

Boys with affectionate fathers develop positive self-esteem, they tend to thrive in schoolwork, and have fewer gender identity issues. So go ahead and give your son a big, old-fashioned bear hug-and do it often.

5.  Model a spiritual life

By your example, your son will gain an appreciation for prayer and other acts of devotion.


6.  Live in concert with the natural world.

Spend time outdoors with your son. Teach your son to respect and treasure the natural world around him.

7.  Seek equal partnerships with women and female culture.

Let your respect for your wife, daughters, and all other women be apparent in all you say and do.

8.  Seek a male kinship system.

Become part of a male community in which you support and are supported in your quest to be a better husband and father.

9.  Be an agent of service.

Share real-life experiences of service with your son. These could be as simple as daily acts of kindness to more structured projects such as volunteering once a month at a homeless shelter.

10.   Observe rites of passage. 

As your son meets the benchmarks along the way that help signal new levels of maturity and responsibility, make sure you celebrate.  Let him know what he has accomplished towards
becoming a man.

This list was culled from the work of Michael Gurian and the research of Dr. Ken Canfield, founder of the National Center for Fathering  (, whose mission is to “improve the well-being of children by inspiring and equipping men to be more effectively involved in the lives of children.”