I am a parent raising two boys, my 13-year-old son and 18-year-old brother, and my greatest mission in these critical years has been to ensure that these young men remain morally sound.
There is a great deal of emphasis on raising smart and gifted children, even though we know that raising happy, balanced and considerate children is best.
I am not about to give you a formula or prescribe some amazing miracle on how to go about raising your sons, but I would like to get parents, both mother and father, to think and engage in conversations that will provide the bigger picture of why it is necessary to nurture and groom young men into understanding their roles and responsibilities as men in society.
There is overwhelming growing anxiety about moral decay, poor mental health, social norm detachments and increased involvement in anti-social behaviour amongst men in our society. We have a responsibility as parents, communities and society to take control and get things in order.
Instilling norms and values
I have learnt over the years that a male child needs both parents to nurture and take care of him. The mother and father relationship provides a balance in any child’s life.
Unfortunately, not all families have this traditional parenting structure. As a single parent, I have opted to incorporate male role models from our relatives and friends, to provide the much-needed mentorship and support to my sons. It is important to me as a parent, that I am firm but fair and assertive but patient and affectionate.
It is good to set rules and be very clear about one's expectations in following these rules, and this ensures that a child is aware of the consequences should these rules be broken. It is important to teach our sons about having priorities and upholding their values.
It is evident that a young man who is grounded inadequate values and norms and can interact in a caring manner and learns the baseline of treating people with respect.
Fostering emotional intelligence
I am very aware that we are living in a society where children are not safe and are exposed to things that can lead them to dire situations. Some of our schools have become unsafe spaces and our children are being exposed to destructive content on social media. The parents or guardians must safeguard their children and equip them with tangible life skills.
What I am trying to get across here is that as parents, we need to be focused on raising children that are mindful, dynamic and well-rounded.
Parents, especially fathers, need to feel both comfortable and willing to show affection to their sons. Our sons need to be taught how to show affection and be affectionate to others.
Emotional intelligence imparted by parents can help a child’s ability to articulate their emotions and thoughts. Most important is that affection goes hand in hand with encouraging open communication. It has been proven that physical expressions of love increase feelings of security and confidence in a child.
You must encourage your son to speak freely and openly with you. Your son must be able to trust you and know that you have his best interest at heart. He must be able to confide in you. Your son needs to feel secure and reassured that you're always there during confusing moments of their development.
To foster a good relationship with your son, you must pay attention to your son’s world and interests. You can only get to know your son by engaging and being present in his world.
You will need to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect child but despite this being true, we still need to be very conscious of the fact that we are raising little men who need to one day contribute to society.
As a parent, one needs to foster as much positive nurturing and reinforcement that will encourage good behaviour and manners and the rest does come naturally.
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