Posts tagged teachable moments

25 things dads should teach their sons



HikingDavisMenBefore 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 the 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

  • 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 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 head-start 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 the principles of leading, protecting and providing, all the while building confidence in their abilities as emerging men.

25 things dads should teach their sons
  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 providing adequate service, $1 for a checked coat, $1 per bag for curbside check in at the 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.

Taken from:  A Guide to Biblical Manhood, by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas. Copyright © 2011 by SBTS Press, a division of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.

RandyStinsonMugDr. Randy Stinson is Senior Fellow at The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and is Senior Vice President for Academic Administration & Provost at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and encourages his eight children in their pursuits. He and Danna have been married for 22 years.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “25 things dads should teach their sons,” by guest poster Dr. Randy Stinson. 

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWhich items might you want to learn so you can teach them? What would you add to the list? Share your ideas.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistHear Randy Stinson on FamilyLife Today radio broadcast as he lays out “Casting a Vision for Your Family.”

STEPPass - 10-point checklistPick one thing from the list to do this week. If you don’t have sons, share this post with someone who does.

Choosing between my son and me



Good parenting is often choosing self-sacrifice rather than self.

“Daddy, you wanna hear me count to 10 million?”

Not a question I expected or necessarily even wanted to hear from my 5-year-old.

“Um … well … no, not really,” I was tempted to say (lovingly, of course).

Maybe for a mom, a question like this is precious! But I’m a dad and after a long workday, it’s most definitely not precious. “Let’s see, what’s the best way to waste time tonight? Ooh, I know, let’s count to 10 million.”

I’m pretty sure my 5-year-old can’t even count to 10 million, much less do it fast enough to fit the jammed schedule I had planned for the evening:

  • Put on comfortable clothes? Yep.
  • Eat dinner? Uh-huh.
  • Watch playoff basketball game? Now you’re talking!

Count to 10 million? Negative. I could hear it already. “One, two, three, four, five, um … wait, I’m starting over.”

Oh sure, you’re probably more spiritual than me. Cast the first stone if you must. But most of you with young kids can relate. They’re growing fast and learning about things too big for them. So they look to you for help sorting it all out. You want to be a great parent, but time and energy run short.

As I thought about the choice I had to make that night, God began to remind me of a few important things about spiritual life and parenting:

I needed to view this from my child’s eyes, not just my own. I joke that, in my flesh, I’m not really interested in hearing my son count to 10 million. But truthfully, from his perspective, that’s a huge deal and an incredibly worthwhile investment of his time. And for me to spend my evening doing that is even bigger to him.

I agree with what Steve Farrar writes in his book, Point Man: “Quality time comes at the most unusual moments. You never know when it will happen. It usually makes an appearance someplace in the realm of quantity time.”

Remembering to look through my child’s eyes gets me out of “quality time” mode and into “quantity time” mode. Don’t ask me exactly how to measure “quantity time,” though I figure counting to ten million is a pretty good place to start.

I can’t use up all my energy at work … I need to save some for when I get home. I’m as guilty as the next guy of putting every ounce of energy I can into my workday. I’ve got plenty of good reasons to do it, too. The Bible tells me to work hard, “as for the Lord rather than men” (Colossians 3:23). There’s also the economy to think about. I mean, who wants to be the guy found not working hard these days?

Unfortunately, none of that makes any difference to my son. All he knows is that I don’t want to hear him count to 10 million. For me, preserving some physical energy for when I get home actually helps me set the right pace for myself at work — sort of a parenting twist on the “render unto Caesar” concept. Render unto work the things due at work, but don’t render everything you’ve got every single day.

I needed to see this as an opportunity, not an interruption. Spontaneous “teachable moments” are the very essence of parenting. But I’ve found that it’s up to me whether I view them as opportunities or as interruptions. A steward has opportunities. An owner has interruptions. The wise parent spends his days as a steward.

On this occasion, though, I think God just wanted me to feel like a parent and to make a choice. My choice of whether to count to 10 million or not was really choosing between my son and me … between self-sacrifice and self.  And that’s always the rub isn’t it?

To be fair, a tired mom or dad may actually need to choose rest over the kids. But for me it’s usually not that complicated, and I still pick me more often than not.  But sometimes I make the better choice.

I have no idea who won the basketball game. But I’ll never forget the time I discovered that my 5-year-old son really does know how to count to 10 million.

Who knew?

Copyright © 2010 by Jim Mitchell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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