Fatherhood is to a son’s manhood, as manhood is to a dad’s fatherhood.
They’re inseparable elements in the way fathers raise their sons to be men, because they reflect each other.
A few points in a recent piece from All Pro Dad’s BJ Foster hit a six on the subject.
Foster offered four ways to father their sons into manhood, introducing his argument with a simple: ‘Sons need their dads to show them how to be a man.’
Heaping four ways into four categories, Foster explained that as sons mature, fathers should be there to bring their son’s identity as a man to life.
Sons need to know they belong, have help finding their own voice, and be shown the importance of owning the relationship between rights and responsibilities; duty and freedom.
Authentic fathers make authentic men, for ‘a man is not made; he emerges,’ wrote Foster.
In other words, by raising the boy to be an authentic man, the authentic dad draws the authentic man out of the boy.
He adds, ‘Our boys need a strong understanding of who they are as individuals,’ and I’d add, as much as they need to be shown how to be a team player.
‘A father,’ he continued, ‘is one of the most powerful factors in whether a son feels worthy. Our boys need our presence and approval.’
Even though ‘being independent is often lifted up as a virtue, we were never meant to live that way,’ Foster said.
Discussing how fathers help their sons find a voice, he explained, ‘our sons have gifts and talents.’
Therefore, ‘help him find his gifting by encouraging him to try new things. Give him room to toil and let him know it’s OK to fail.’
The final, and single most important task for dads is teaching their sons to take responsibility for their actions.
‘Grown men,’ Foster asserted, ‘take responsibility for their actions, for their actions’ consequences, and for how they impact the people around us.’
He’s right. No man exists as an island.
As the worn-out cliché I just used reminds us: a smooth stone dropped into a still lake illustrates how every action has a corresponding action — the people hit the hardest by a man’s decisions are those closest to the point of impact.
No one who shares a close orbit with a man escapes the ferocity of the man’s bad decisions, corrupted character, or poor judgement.
Foster’s four points help frame my own thoughts during a recent weekend spent working alongside my two teenage boys.
When moving our way through the five-hour grind it takes to complete some yard work, I had a chance to reflect on the value of the moment.
As is my way sometimes, I also caught another sobering glimpse of the things I was never shown — the authentic man my absentee father never raised me to be.
Yet, there I was, gifted with fatherhood, despite not being a gifted father, doing what fathers do: fathering, as Foster would say, my sons into manhood.
Working with them, teaching them to rise to the challenge; taking them through a rite of passage, and celebrating with them, their own path to authentic fatherhood.
By teaching my youngest son how to use power tools, while reminding my eldest son to follow through with what he’s already been taught, we were living the very substance of Foster’s four points on fathers teaching their sons to be authentic men.
Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.
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