When a man is looking for tips to be a better father he searches far and wide for the most experienced men with the wisest sage advice. Well, this week I found some great parenting tips on fathering from an unlikely source: an eighteen-year-old single co-worker!
I travel regularly with a film crew to film adventure shows for the company I work for. Usually there are a few young guys traveling with us. There are a couple of young men I work with who have always impressed me. They are models for who I’d like my boys to be when they launch out on their own. These boys are brothers, so I’ve always been curious about how they were raised.
On our return from central Florida this week, I was stuck in the “adventure van” with one of those boys. I had a captive source of information for a 7-hour drive. Yes, I took the chance to ask some questions! I wanted to find out what this dad did to help the brothers get on the right track. What helped them stabalize as they were growing into adults? I got some great parenting tips.
I condensed his responses down to five bullet points on how to help support a boy as he grows into a man.
- Find out what your son loves and give him everything he needs to pursue it.
- Invite him into your passions to share the things you love about life.
- Spend as much time as you possibly can with your boy.
- Stay strict about the right things.
- Be for them what you would want them to be for your grandkids.
Parenting Tip #1: Support THEIR Passions.
The first thing Graham told me after I asked him what his dad did well in raising the family was that his dad always observed in his children what made them come alive. He would then give them the resources they needed to thrive in that passion.
The two brothers have very different passions and skills. One excels in mechanical prowess, while the other is accomplished at video production. Graham’s eyes light up at the sight of the latest muscle car. Scott spends hours behind his computer monitor putting the final touches on his latest project. Dad saw both of these unique passions early on in the boys’ lives.
Graham mentioned that his dad would give him what he needed to fix up and flip dirt bikes as early as middle-shool. And that he purchased Scott his first camera kit when he was a young teenager. And those resources gave them the ability to develop a craft and skills that would follow them into adulthood.
No matter what our budget looks like, we can support the passions of our children and give them a head start. It is an investment that will pay huge dividends when we see our kids fly past their competition as they launch into life.
Parenting Tip #2: Invite Your Kids Into YOUR Passions.
After I heard about a half-dozen stories about aircrafts, I realized that there was a common passion among the boys and their dad. From kit planes to powered paragliders, piloting is a frequent topic when I’m chatting with either of these boys. That’s because dad was passionate about flying. And he invited his boys into his passion.
How do we invite our kids into our passions? We do it with them. We let them help us. Good dads create opportunities for them to experience the feelings we have when we do what we love.
Yes. It may slow us down.
Yes. We may not get to go as high or deep or wide with the kids in tow.
But, if we invite them into our world of fulfilling our God-given desires, we will give to them more than most kids will ever get from their parents.
We will give them our adventure!
Parenting Tip #3: Time Together is Top Priority.
Providing for them to explore their passions and inviting them into yours is pointless if you fail to give them the gift of TIME. This can be much more difficult than just forking out cash for camera gear or dirt bike parts. Time is definitely our most valuable possession. And it’s theirs too!
Two weeks ago, at the age of 18 and 20, “Dad” picked Graham and Scott up from Nashville in the plane. Together, they headed down to an airshow in Lakeland, Florida. Just the three of them. Just for fun!
We can never give too much time to our children, no matter their age. Of course it feels like you don’t have the time to give. Take time from someone else. With the limited resource of time, someone is inevitably going to get robbed of their fair share. Don’t let it be your children!
Parenting Tip #4: Stay Strict with the Right Things.
It has become the acceptable technique for parenting to allow their children to be independent beings. Modern parenting culture says to let them make their own decisions, determine their own path and don’t limit them from being who THEY want to be.
There’s a massive problem with that parenting philosophy. A child does not know what type of adult they want to become. They have not had time to experience the consequences and rewards of decisions. They do not have the capacity to know what will help them and what will harm them. It is the responsibility of the parent to guide them toward a path that will lead to happiness, self-confidence and fulfillment.
Progressive Decision Making
A child should PROGRESSIVELY become a decision-making adult with the help of a responsible life-giving guide. We are their guides. No one would say that it would be responsible to let a child touch a hot iron in order to find their own way. No! We protect them from the hot iron until they have the data they need to make the decision to stay away.
Consequently, it is our job as a responsible guide to make decisions for them until they have the required knowledge to choose their own path. Of course, there is a balance to this. We release decisions incrementally as they are ready to take on the task. That’s why we have driving ages, voting ages, and drinking ages! For goodness sake, if the government sees the value, surely wise parents can see it too.
Graham and Scott had restrictions growing up. Their dad set limitations on what they could and couldn’t do on their own. There seemed to be a healthy balance between freedom and limits. And that balance shifted over time, based on how they responded to new freedoms at different ages.
The Growing Up Graph
Victorious Christian Living created a chart to help parents understand this principle. It illustrates the relationship between the age of a child and the amount of control a parent should assert in the life of a child. It’s called the “Growing Up Graph” and you can see it below.
In the graph you can see that at age 0 a parent should have 100% control over the life of a child. This includes decisions related to safety, security, physical needs (eating, sleeping, etc…) and lifestyle choices. As the child progresses in age, the parent should release control as the child has the ability to make good desicisions. These decisions will be based on information the child has gathered from life experience.
Parenting Tip #5: Be For Them What You Would Want Them to Be For Your Grandchildren
There is a life-changing principle that we know from the Bible that says, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” It’s often referred to as the Golden Rule and it has impacted culture for thousands. Interestingly, that rule is given to us by Jesus Christ and is given in the context of a father/son relationship!
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
We usually think of giving to our children in terms of material things such as video games and four-wheelers. But, there is another gift greater than any material gift your can give. It’s even greater than the gift of time or love. It’s the gift of you!
Our parenting skills and our expressions of love sum up the gift we give them in “dad.” We determine what that gift looks like and how it affects our children. Let’s give them the best dad we can possibly offer!
The beauty behind this principle is that if we give them the best we can, chances are they will return the gift with the son we will be proud of. They in turn will carry that legacy on to the third and fourth generations.
Final Thoughts on Five Parenting Tips
With all that said, it is extremely important for us to remember that all people have the God-given gift of independence. The best parenting on the planet will never guarantee strong children. We have limited influence and little control over what they will determine for their future as adults.
However, if we work hard and give our best, we will give them the best shot at their best life.
Plus, we’ll rest at night knowing that we didn’t let the chaos of the world shape them into what we most fear for them.
Share Some Tips with Me!
Hey, why not share some tips with me in the comments below!
What’s the one or two things you’ve learned about being a dad and raising boys that are fully alive?