Last April, I graduated with a degree in print journalism. Throughout my studies, I’ve become quite the news junkie. While it’s nice to feel like I’m well-informed, it’s also been a harsh awakening to the kind of world my son was born into. And it’s enough to make me want to hold him tight and never let him leave my sight.
There is so much hate and violence. I find my jaw dropping as I read about the cruel things that happen around the world, especially toward children. And violence isn’t the only harmful thing out there either. The things I hear kids talking about and doing at such young ages is ridiculous.
Eventually, I know I will have to let my son go (though hopefully not for a long time.) When that day comes, there are many things I hope that I’ve instilled in his mind to help him on his way. Here are six things I feel parents can do to raise children that respect others and themselves who are truly great men someday.
But know, I’m not a child development expert, or anything…just a loving mommy doing my best.
6 Values for Raising Sons to Become Great Men Someday
1) Show Them Love and Respect
It’s not enough to just tell your child you love them. Showing a child that they are loved, and respected, is one of the best things I think a parent can do. Growing up, I always knew my parents loved me because of how they treated me. Yes, they were strict at times, but I never doubted that they had my best interest in mind.
By showing your child love and respect, they will, more than likely, in turn show that love to those around them. I feel like I see something on the news every day about a child who was bullied at school and pushed to commit suicide. If we teach our children to reach out to those in need, then perhaps there would be less stories like this.
2) Teach Them to Work
I’m appalled when I see how entitled this society has become. When I left home to go to college when I was 18, it amazed me how many people I encountered who had never cleaned a bathroom or loaded a dishwasher. Even though I fought doing chores growing up, I think that’s one of the things I appreciate most about my parents. They taught me how to work, and how to be responsible for myself.
One of the greatest injustices a parent can do for their child is to just let them coast through life, never making them lift a finger. If your child wants an allowance, make them earn it. When they are old enough to get a part-time job, encourage it. Learning how to work while they are young will last them their whole life through. Plus, future roommates and spouses will appreciate it.
3) Focus on the Positive
Your child won’t be great at everything. In fact, they might even struggle a lot. Or they might be extremely smart, athletic, and good-looking. Either way, focus on the positive. Focus on making that child feel good about what they are doing, and their strengths. Don’t compare them to others. Praise genuine effort, and small triumphs. I believe it makes a difference.
My mom once told me that she thinks that most kids just want to make their parents proud. And I truly believe that as well. Let your kids know when you are proud of them. They may act like they don’t care, but believe me, they do.
Along the same lines, show your child that there is good in the world. They’ll see plenty of negative as they learn about friend’s home lives, read books, or watch the news. Let them know that while there may be evil, there is still so, so much good. Teach your children to find the good in the world around them, and in people.
4) Teach Self Worth
Let’s be honest. Our kids are told, inadvertently and to their faces, that they aren’t worth anything. That, if they don’t have the coolest clothes, the best car, and the smartest smartphone, they might as well give up. Some teacher may give them a bad grade on a project they worked weeks on.
As parents, we need to teach our kids to not rely on these types of things to determine their self-worth. Having material objects does not make someone better or worse. Knowing that they are important, and have individual gifts and talents, will carry them much further than having an iPad and clothes from Abercrombie. Plus, not giving them everything they want will help them value the things they do receive.
5) Set Boundaries and Show Consequences
Give your child a curfew. Ground them if they break the rules. Follow through with punishments. They may hate you for a few hours, but chances are, they’ll thank you for it someday.
If a child knows they can get away with anything, they might just push the limits. I’m not saying we need to be drill sergeants, and not allow our children to have fun. But letting them know that you are the parent, and they are expected to abide by certain rules, is important. Not only will they (hopefully) learn respect for house rules, but for other houses rules, and laws of the land.
Along the same lines, teach them to have morals. That may mean different things to different people and families, but teach your kids to stand for something.
6) Don’t live in Fear
This is something I am working on constantly! I always fear the worst is going to happen.
As I do this, I limit Jack’s growth at times, and that’s not something I want. I want him to grow up knowing that, despite all the bad in the world, that there is so, so much good. It means letting him do things for himself – making mistakes, falling down, and even getting a couple broken hearts. I’m definitely more protective than a lot of parents probably are, but I don’t want fear to limit his opportunities in life.
There’s no foolproof way to raise a child. Sometimes, a parent can do their very best, and their child will still struggle. That’s just how life is. However, by trying to apply these concepts, the chance of raising a child into a self-respecting, responsible adult is far more likely.
Katie is the creator and author of Clarks Condensed, alongside her husband, Forrest. Katie stays at home with their sweet baby boy, Jack, who just turned two, and is the light of their lives. When she isn’t taking care of Jack, Katie loves to cook, sew, and write. Clarks Condensed is a lifestyle blog, and has a little bit of everything. Some days are about motherhood and pregnancy, and the next might be about great ways to save money, and the next, a yummy recipe. There’s even some sports talk thrown in every now and then. It’s the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the Clarks, condensed down for everyone to read. Be sure to come by and check it out and follow along on Facebook | Twitter | Google + | Pinterest | Instagram.