Use this helpful list as a springboard for spending quality time with your sons.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Before the industrial revolution, it was common for men to spend much of their day in the company of their sons—either on the family farm or in the family business. In those settings, dads could teach their sons practical lessons as well as the lessons of leadership, protection, and provision expected of manhood.
Today, work, school, extracurricular activities, and even church take fathers and sons in separate directions. Dads, therefore, have to be intentional about creating opportunities to teach their sons—to model manhood, to teach industry and resourcefulness. One way to do that is to work through a list of things that fathers can teach sons.
You can work through such a list in one of two ways: either (1) by setting aside a regular father/son time to take on one item at a time (one dad started this routine and calls it “Manhood Mondays”) or by (2) just taking the time to instruct your son anytime you’re about to do one of these tasks yourself. It’s not efficient, but the investment of your time can be priceless. Whether you do it proactively, reactively, or both, what matters most is taking the time to build a legacy with your son(s).
Don’t freak out by what is or isn’t on the list here. These are meant to be examples of what engagement looks like, but you can adapt this or just see it as a headstart for your own list. You’ll notice that many of the skills listed here can be bypassed by modern technology in most industrially-advanced countries. Making the effort to teach these, however, will give you valuable time with your son(s) and will give you a practical opportunity to present principles of leading, protecting and providing, all the while building confidence in their abilities as emerging men.
1. Speak in public—there’s power in the spoken word.
2. Read good books—leaders are readers.
3. Play an instrument—especially because of the discipline required.
4. Play individual, two-person, and team sports.
5. Build a fire.
6. Camp out—pitch the tent, cook stuff over the fire, the whole thing.
7. Carve a turkey.
8. Light a grill.
9. Jump start a car.
10. Tie a knot—such as a bowline, square knot, taut-line, and figure eight, among others.
11. Use basic tools—hammer, saw, wrench, screwdriver.
12. Paint a room—trim and all.
13. Handle a gun and a knife—for safety, protection, sport, and hunting.
14. Skin an animal.
15. Be a gentleman—open doors, stand when a woman approaches at dinner, etc.
16. Grow stuff—and not just a Chia pet.
17. Iron a shirt—and do laundry and other work around the house in a manly way.
18. Manage money—keep a balanced checkbook, show generosity, and learn basic saving and investing.
19. Shake a hand—strong shake (save the tuna for dinner) and look ’em in the eye.
20. Give a man hug—skip the side hug, and go arms spread eagle with bold back slaps.
21. Keep vows.
22. Dress like a gentleman—coordinate pants, shirts, jackets, ties, belts, socks, etc., appropriately to the occasion.
23. Tip—for example at least 15% for a waiter, $1 for a checked coat, $1 per bag for curbside check in at airport, etc.
24. Serve others—shovel walks, help with heavy loads, etc.
25. Handle loss—sports and games in preparation for loss in work and relationships.