We have three sons and have become increasingly alarmed by headlines of adolescent boy with violent behaviors that are caused by out-of-control emotions. Do you have any tips on how we raise emotionally-healthy sons?
Over the past year I’ve seen a significant rise in parents asking questions similar to yours. Parents who have concerns and questions related to what some call “the crisis of masculinity” and more specifically the unique challenges of raising sons.
Here are the top five of a longer list of things every boy needs from his dad that will help him become a Godly man:
# 1 Cultivate his identity as an Image Bearer.
Teach your sons what it means to be “in Christ,” to have been made in the image of God and to have been redeemed by the Son of God, so that their identity will be person-based (who they are in Christ) and not just performance-based (what they do on their own).
# 2 Understand the significance of healthy emotions for his intellectual and relational growth.
Research tells us that how we deal with our emotions will impact how well we learn and the quality and stability of our relationships.
# 3 Be aware of and manage your own emotions.
When we don’t understand and manage our own emotions we are unable to serve as a healthy model and we’re much more likely to say and do things that will cause them hurt and frustration and provoke them to anger.
# 4 Be aware of their emotional responses and unique patterns AND recognize emotional events as a powerful opportunity to reflect the difference that Christ can make.
Study each one of your sons and note when are they most likely to be angry, anxious or depressed as well as when is the best time to talk and pray with them and help them learn and grow through the situation.
# 5 Listen empathically, validate their feelings and help them verbally label their emotions.
Listening says that they are valuable and important to you. When we help our sons verbally label their emotions it gives them a sense of control over them and the ability to experience and express them in healthy ways.
Remember that one of the most powerful things we can do to raise our sons in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) is to model for them both who God is and what He has revealed in ways that they can apply to their minds and to their hearts, and in the process become more like their Lord Jesus Christ.