7 Things Every Dad Should Model for his Son

Since Jeff and I started writing Tender Lions, we’ve been immersed in reading, research and observing the behavior of dads and sons. The list below are common sense things, that upon closer inspection appear to not be so common as one might hope. Over 35% of boys in the United States don’t live with their dads, and another significant percentage have one who may be physically present but emotionally absent. Thus, a high percentage of boys just don’t have many positive male role models.

Here are 10 things that dads should model for their sons, and thus sons will learn to do. By the way, this isn’t intended to be the “be all end all” list.

  1. Handshake – Be sure to give a firm handshake, make eye contact and repeat their name when meeting someone for the first time. Like, “It’s very nice to meet you, Mrs. Johnson.”
  2. Kitchen Table – Help clear the table after dinner, whether at home or while visiting someone else.
  3. Chivalry – Open doors for others, especially women and older people.
  4. Service – Ask your mom, “How may I help you?” This is for dads too. When you ask, “Can I help you…” she will frequently say, “No thanks.” But when you ask, “How may I…” it automatically implies that you’re there to help. She’s much more likely to find a good way to use your offer.
  5. Courage – Stick up for the girl or boy who’s being bullied…always.
  6. Interviews – (Job/College Interviews) Comb your hair. Brush your teeth. Turn off your phone. Put on a belt and pull up your pants. Wear a clean, ironed shirt. And look in the mirror before you enter the interview to make sure you’re well “put together.”
  7. Respect – Be respectful of all females, everywhere. Never ever put a female in a situation where she feels manipulated or powerless. Never pressure her to do something that makes her uncomfortable.
  8. And one extra…COVID – Get your COVID vaccine as soon as possible. You may be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19. You certainly don’t want to be the cause of someone else’s death. Tender Lions just do the right thing.

It’s my opinion that: 1) we are a country that is losing (and maybe already lost) it’s ability to discern right from wrong, prioritize service to others over self, and to just show basic courtesy and civility to our neighbors. And 2) that men are much worse at the “basic decorum” habits than women. We are in serious need of more Tender Lions who are willing to step forward to demonstrate right behavior for young men who desperately need strong male role models. Let’s not grow weary when there’s so much to gain…and so much to lose.

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Many of these blog entries are edited excerpts from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son

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