The common complaint today is that many sons are growing to maturity without their fathers. Have you ever wondered what the big fuss is about? Why are fathers important to sons in the eyes of almost every one?
A lot of people derisively refer to absent fathers as just sperm donors -including the “baby mamma”. It is a statement that irks me as a man but not one that is totally untrue. So many sons grow up without their fathers being continuously active in their lives.
I am thankful that I grew up with both my parents and that my father was always present. As I look back though, I realize that I did not afford my sons the same opportunity. After sixteen (16) years of marriage, my wife and I separated. I didn’t want to leave my children but I allowed them to choose the parent they would like to stay with. They chose their mother, so I moved out of the house.
In recent conversations with them, I realize how that decision affected them – and it’s not that they were complaining. We were just chatting. Even though I left, I was always present in their lives and I though that I had done quite well. Now I know differently.
Who is a father
If you believe in the Biblical account of creation, then you will know that the man was created first, then the woman, as a helper and companion for the man. She was also his mate and the one that would bear his seed.
They were then told to “be fruitful and multiply” meaning that they were to procreate other beings like themselves through the sexual act, conception, nine months of pregnancy and finally, birth.
Whatever the sex of the child, the man became a father and the woman a mother.
So it can be safe to say that a father is any male who has a biological child. Yes, I know that today people attempt to stretch that definition in all directions, but I leave it there. Oh, and by the way, I do not agree that a mother can be a father. That’s in spite of all the good work she might do as a single parent to make sure that her child grows up properly.
However, there’s much more to being a father than providing the sperm that unites with the egg – keeping it simple – that is imbedded in the womb and grows into a fetus.
Once a man realizes that he is going to be a father, he “ups his game”. When I got the news, I was a bit scared at first. I wondered if I would know what to do, how to behave. I had read a lot prior to marriage and I thought that I was prepared, but the reality was another thing.
Once that soaked in though, I was excited. My first priority then was to make sure that the mother of my son was and remained in the best of health. We were not married yet but we had already set the date. It was brought forward by two months.
After the wedding, it was all about making sure my wife was as comfortable and secure as possible. Those were good days. Happy days. I had a good job and even though our house was incomplete, it was home.
One Sabbath (Saturday) morning I felt her urgent shaking. Her water had broke. We rushed her to the hospital and by two o’clock in the afternoon our son was born. I was a happy man.
I used to be scared to hold new born babes. I wasn’t with my son. When he came home the next evening, and the excitement of his arrival had quieted down – he was my parent’s first grand child – I took him unto the porch and lifted him above my head in thankfulness to God. I whispered his name into the night.
As father, I enjoyed walking him, taking responsibility for easing the cares of his mother whenever I was at home. Though I was not able to provide him with all that I desired, he didn’t lack much. My parents and siblings also pitched in with whatever they saw necessary.
I was his father, he was my son.
Who is a son
A male child is the son of his parents. That’s putting it simply but there is so much more to being a son.
A son bares and carries on the family’s name. He is at first, in a lot of ways a miniature of his father. As he matures, he continues to take on a lot of his father’s mannerisms but he also develops his own.
He is the one to whom the masculine characteristics are passed on and in ancient times, the firstborn son would receive the main part of the inheritance of his father. This practice is still carried out in some countries and is effective in giving the new family a good start on their family building journey.
It may therefore be safe to say that a son carries the future of his family, physically and mentally.
He needs to be taught how to be a man and how to care for himself and others. This training should be both direct and specific. As a son, my father taught me about providing for my family by providing for his. He worked hard and though I did not see it at the time, his family came first.
A son needs to know how to handle finances and make wise choices. If his father is good at that, then he should do the teaching. If he does not do this well, then he should be man enough to admit that he does not know and place his son in a position where he could learn from someone else.
A son learns how to take responsibilities and to be disciplined. He learns that he is the stronger of the two sexes and therefore his strength should not be used to harm but to protect.
A son is a male who is to be taught in his developmental years how to be a man. When he becomes a man, he practices what he had been taught and may even improve on his father’s legacy.
Why fathers are important
No one can teach a son to be a man as effectively as his father. It is widely agreed that men are more logical thinkers. We are problem solvers. This characteristic often gets us in trouble with our female folk.
I have come to understand that many times when women come to men with an issue, it is not so much that they want a solution from us, but they want a listing ear and empathy. Over time, a man may finally learn that from dealing with his wife and other females.
If he remembers to and teaches his son this simple fact, he would have done him a huge favor and saved him the otherwise confusing complexity of women. This is not to say that that is all there is to understanding a woman, but a man who ‘gets it” would be able to pass it on more easily to his son.
There are some things about life that a son is more comfortable discussing with his father because his father would have already passed through a similar experience. More so when he is going through the developmental stages of life. This is made much easier if his father is aware of what transpired in his life and prepares his son for the event.
Since he would have been the one to introduce the topic, when it does occur, as long as their relationship continues to be a good one, the son should feel relatively comfortable to approach his father.
It goes without saying then, that a father must develop a loving, trusting relationship with his son. Yes, a man – a father – should teach his son to love by loving him. When he does so, he closes the door on any misconception that others may introduce about male love.
He also teaches his son how to love and treat a woman by loving his mother and sister if there is any. This can be done even if the relationship with his mother is not what it should be.
After my wife and I separated, there was a lot of “bad blood” between us and for the first few months we avoided each other. When I went to see my children she disappeared into the bedroom. I soon realized that we couldn’t continue like that, not if we wanted to do the best under the circumstances for out children.
I prayed and talked with her. Since then, we have gotten along much better than when we were married. That’s not to say that we have not had differences and misunderstandings but most of the venom that led to our separation and divorce has disappeared over time.
A man should know when to apologize and teach his son to identify those moments and do the same. It is easy to refuse to say sorry. It takes a man to accept his wrong and apologize for the pain he caused.
It builds character too, both the man’s and the person he apologized to – in some cases.
What sons can teach their fathers
My first two children are boys, exactly as I wanted it to be. It has been my dream from the day – I can’t recall exactly when – I began thinking about having children. I wanted two boys and two girls. I have two boys and a girl. I am satisfied with that now.
My love for my sons, my children, is different from the love that I had for their mother. So first of all, I would say that they taught me to love differently. Today they tell me that I love my daughter more than I loved them. I disagree, but that’s how they see it.
The older sons grow, the more they challenge their fathers, especially his authority. Looking back, I don’t know if I did that well in guiding them in that area. I know that I was tough on them in some cases and yes, the separation did not make it any easier.
So while it is important to teach them to be tough and manly, it is also important to temper the toughness with compassion and love that they can feel. They can also teach the father to be patient and forgiving. Sometimes as fathers we expect instant obedience and forget that we do not always obey immediately. So we are hard on them when they don’t, forgetting that at times, patience and kindness would be more effective.
Having sons can also help a man understand more about the love of God for his children – for us. There are few fathers that would be okay with seeing their offspring suffer.
I recall taking them on my chest at night to help them fall asleep. I would sing to them while rocking the bed. Even after they had fallen asleep I had to continue singing for a while. If I stopped they would awaken. Then I would gently roll on my side and ease them unto the bed. Even then, I could not get up immediately or I would have to start all over again. Those were learning days, good days. Memories to cherish and share.
At the same time, not every father is able to provide all that their sons desire, even when the desire is a good one. When such is the case, turning to God is always the best answer. Even when I did not know what to do in some cases, I prayed and the Lord guided my decision.
Making a man
My boys are adults today. Speaking to them I see some of me in them. Some parts of me I wish that they would be wise enough to discard. If they are not, then it is possible that they would make the same or similar mistakes and suffer more thank I suffered.
I also see their willingness to work, to provide, and I applaud that. Not that I got it totally correct, but they learned some things. And in spite of my separation from their mother, they are not bitter. Yet I know that my absence adversely affected them.
They are cautious in relationships and not as outgoing as I wish they would be but that may change over time, I hope.
I am encouraged by their spirituality and their growing personal relationship with God. If there is one thing that I am sure will ensure that they be better men than their father, it’s this.
Growing up a son into a man takes deliberate effort and determination. I have learned that it will challenge you but if a good job is done, the end product will be worth it.
Love for our children is the over-riding principle.
What has been your experience in raising your son/s – if you have any? What suggestions can you give that would help others raise stronger, wiser men?
Leave your comments and or questions in the space provided below.
Let’s love them up now!