Teach your son to respect others. Let your son know that all people deserve to be honored and cherished. Candidly discuss what’s most important to women and when they feel disrespected by men. Always require your son to treat you with the utmost respect. Know that if you don’t respect yourself, you can’t command respect. If you have low self-esteem, ask God to give you the healing you need so you can project true confidence.

Make sure your son has healthy male role models. Understand that only men can teach boys how to become men. Know that your son needs relationships where he can see masculinity in action in order to develop healthy masculinity himself. Teach your son about Jesus – the ultimate example of healthy masculinity – and encourage him to develop his own relationship with Him. Guide your son’s choice of friends toward boys from families who share your values.

Point out heroic men in books, movies, television, and newspaper stories, but don’t rely on the media exclusively to provide heroes for your son. Instead, introduce him to people you admire, with whom he can have real relationships. Look for positive male role models among family members (such as dad, grandparents and uncles), friends (such as church members, neighbors, and your son’s friends’ dads), and through your son’s activities (such as teachers, coaches, and scout troop leaders). Explain to the people you find that you’d like them to intentionally invest some time in your son for the specific purpose of mentoring him. As your son builds relationships with mentors, be sure to stay involved yourself, thanking the men who take an interest in him and protecting him by making sure nothing inappropriate takes place in the relationships.

If you’re married and your husband is a great father, affirm his positive character traits in front of your son. If you’re divorced, or married to someone who consistently disappoints your son, try not to criticize your former or current spouse in front of your son. However, don’t make excuses for wrong behavior. Let your son know gently that you share in his pain when his father mistreats or ignores him.

Pray! Intercede in prayer for your son every day, praying for specific ways you’d like to see him grow. Recognize the awesome power of prayer to accomplish more than you ever could on your own.

Have fun. Don’t forget to enjoy your son. Expect that he’ll bring lots of joy into your life. Make plenty of time to spend with him. Laugh together, and build memories to last a lifetime.

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Adapted from That’s My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character, copyright 2005 by Rick Johnson. Published by Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.

Rick Johnson is founder of Better Dads, a fathering skills program that allows him to deliver seminars to businesses, churches, hospitals, prisons, and schools across the Northwest. This book was developed out of Rick’s experiences with his latest seminar, Courageous Moms: Raising Boys to Become Good Men.