Teach Them To express with words what they are feeling
Thousands of years ago women were programmed to be maternal and nurturing, and men to be strong and brave so that they could conquer beasts and elements for our survival. This is no longer the case. As the need for manual and mechanical labour decreases, we need to take that masculine ability and energy, and redirect it to create a different kind of hero.
We need to give boys the tools to express themselves using language and to understand and appropriately express their emotions so that they become men who have courage and determination, but can also be sensitive to the needs of others. Boys naturally have more muscular bodies than girls and they should specifically be taught not to hurt others or use violence when they are upset. Help them to act less impulsively by chatting about alternative ways to behave and solve their problems.
– Anel Annandale, Educational Psychologist
Engendering self-esteem in a son is essential
A man without self-esteem is a dangerous animal; an insecure and selfish one because he constantly fears his own demise, so he makes choices that exclude the needs or dignity of others.
To engender self-esteem one has to patiently and firmly mentor healthy communications with dignity and conflict resolution – never labelling a child, only their behaviour. Saying, for example, “That was a silly thing to do”, rather than, “You are so stupid!”
We need to teach our sons how to identify their preferences and needs, and then how to pursue that while preserving the dignity of others, to learn to disappoint others so that they don’t compromise themselves. They need to learn that compromising needs engenders a broken self-esteem because they are not defending themselves when they need it most.
– Beverley Milun, Self-esteem engineer, communications coach, author of the Survival Guide to Parenthood: through the eyes of a single mother, and mother of one son
Actions speak louder than words
I stand by a quote I read once: “The greatest legacy that a man can leave his children is the way in which he treats their mother.” That little boy looks up to his father as his role model. If Dad says the moon is made of Cheddar cheese, and astronaut Neil Armstrong walks in and says it isn’t, that boy will believe his dad. A father can’t be a couch potato; he can’t come home drunk or disrespect or beat his wife. Even if he hates what his father is doing, the son will often end up doing the same to his own wife. A father must lead from the front.’
– Angus Buchan, Evangelist, author of Faith Like Potatoes (lIoN huDsoN PlC), father of two sons and three daughters
Communication and Honesty help to forge a deep, underlying respect
What has always amazed me is that my sons were born the people that they are. My husband and I played a crucial role in their primary socialisation, and we were fortunate to be able to send them to good public schools.
We sought to set an example for them every step of the way, but so much of who they are was there from the start. The elder of our sons was empathetic before he could speak. Our younger son, also with a heart of gold, took up every challenge before he could walk. We, as parents, had a facilitating role.
My husband has been an outstanding role model to his sons as a man, a father and a citizen. I have tried to do my bit. We both had very demanding careers and we have always been grateful for the support of our committed domestic helper, Grace Voyiya Mputing, who loves my children as she loves her own.
The teenage years were often difficult, but the family foundation was there, and we saw all the challenges through together. Every day we rely on the grace of God to take us the next step.
Our sons are adults now, but that’s only half the journey. I’m sure they will prove to be excellent role models for their own families one day.’
– Helen Zille, Western Cape Premier and mother of two sons