I've seen burly men tear up like 8-year-old boys when asked, "What kind of a relationship did you have with your father?" A father's love is powerful. And dads can use this extraordinary influence to speak into their sons' lives. There are three messages in particular that our sons need to hear from us. Each of these will help prepare our sons to live the life that God has designed for them.
These three essential messages are:
"I love you — even when I'm disappointed with your choices."
When my sons fail or struggle, I want to show them that I love them. They need to know, whether in a moment of commendation or chastisement, that my words come from my desire for their best. And my greatest hope is that my unconditional love will help them understand the depth of their heavenly Father's love for them.
"Get comfortable in your own skin."
So many men spend a lifetime trying to discover who they're supposed to be. A major part of a dad's job is to help his son create a healthy self-awareness. As a young man begins to appreciate how God made him, he wastes less time searching for who he should be and spends more time pursuing God's purpose for his life.
I want to help my sons understand their skills, gifts and personality. I've often told my oldest son, "You have such natural leadership skills. That's a great gift." But I've also tried to shape the potentially negative side of that trait by saying, "Son, you need to be patient with people. Be gentle." I can see the connection between the two sides of this trait, and I want him to understand it, too. His capacity to excel in one depends on his ability to restrain the other.
"Sex is not evil."
Most boys enter their young adult years utterly confused about sex. Usually, they are caught between the extremes of overt promiscuity and secret lust. Young men may come to believe that sex is evil and decent people don't discuss or desire sex. This confusion sets them up for lifelong struggles with pornography.
To clear up this confusion, dads must have several conversations with their sons. These discussions should include the truths that make sense of sex — God, the Gospel and the purpose for marriage.
If we take time and have the courage to share these three messages, our sons will be well on their way to becoming confident men who are well-equipped for life.