Raising boys in today’s society can be challenging to say the least. There are many mixed messages floating around about raising boys, what it means to be a good man, masculinity; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What we do know, is what the research says – for children to thrive, and boys especially, they need an active, present and engaged father, father figure or positive male role model in their life – this can include a sports coach, male teacher, family friend – any positive male figure!
But what do boys need from us most? It’s pretty simple and we can start with the basics – our BUS Principle.
B – Being there. Be there for him through thick and thin.
U – Unconditional love. Let them know that your love for him is never dependant on anything else. You love him no matter what.
S – tell him and show him, that he is special.
As we said, it’s pretty simple. When boys have present fathers who are positive male role models, show them love, that show they care and have a genuine interest in their day to day life – it makes a huge difference.
- Be there. Following on from the point above. You need to be there in mind and body. Kids know when you aren’t completely present and giving them your undivided attention. Set time aside where you are consciously engaging with them. Start with 15 – 30 minutes a day and go from there.
- Make it clear that you’re available anytime your son needs to talk. Let him know that they can call you in times of need.
- Build a comfort zone. Create a safe space for chats, this could be around the dinner table, watching sport together or walking side by side.
- Say “I love you”. Don’t use empty, repetitive words – think of different ways to tell them you love them when they don’t suspect it. Write how you feel in cards, notes, emails and text messages.
- Teach him to apologise. When he is in the wrong, teach him to have empathy and help him to recognise where he went wrong.
- Help him to deal with conflict. Boys are naturally competitive, sometimes this can lead to situations of conflict, especially with their siblings. Keep calm yourself. Separate the kids and identify the cause. Develop family rules to handle these situations – involve the kids in the creation of these.
- Help him to navigate and express his emotions. It’s a powerful thing when a father is open and vulnerable with his emotions and allows his son to to be open with him too. Teach him boys cry, men cry – and it’s not at all weak to do so.