I have a Dad, and I am a Dad. Of two sons.
So, very little of what I say over the next few days will apply to father’s with daughters. I have no clue what that is about, what you’re going through, or how to even begin to be a Dad to a daughter. I will not be so pretentious as to imply I know what it’s like to be a Dad to a daughter (as an aside…if I did have a daughter, it would be a lot of fun to meet her “suitors” at the door. There are all sorts of possibilities there!).
In the book A Guide to Biblical Manhood, by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas, we see 25 things a dad should teach a boy. I’ll add my own things to this list at the end.
1. Speak in public – there’s power in the spoken word.
2. Read good books – leaders are readers.
3. Play an instrument – especially because of the discipline required.
4. Play individual and team sports.
5. Build a fire.
6. Camp out – pitch the tent, cook stuff over the fire, and all that stuff.
7. Carve a turkey.
8. Light a grill.
9. Jump start a car.
10. Tie a knot – such as a bowline, square knot, and figure eight among others.
11. Use basic tools – hammer, saw, wrench, screwdriver.
12. Paint a room – trim and all.
13. Handle a gun and a knife – for safety, protection, sport, and hunting.
14. Skin an animal.
15. Be a gentleman – open doors, stand when a woman approaches, etc.
16. Grow stuff – and not just a Chia pet.
17. Iron a shirt – and do laundry and other work around the house in a manly way.
18. Manage money – keep and balance a checkbook, show generosity, and learn basic saving and investing.
19. Shake a hand – strong shake and look ’em in the eye (save the tuna for dinner).
20. Give a man hug – skip the side hug and go arms spread eagle with bold back slaps.
21. Keep vows.
22. Dress like a gentleman – coordinate pants, shirts, jackets, ties, etc. appropriately to the occasion.
23. Tip – at least 15% for a waiter providing adequate service, $1 per checked bag, and so on.
24. Serve others – rake yards, help with heavy lifting, etc.
25. Handle loss – sports and games in preparation for loss in work and relationships.
And, to this list, I give additional things that should be taught by a Dad to his son.
1. Learn how to fish – this involves discipline, patience, effort, thinking, and, ultimately, fish tales.
2. If we fish and hunt, we use whatever we harvest. We’ll eat it or throw it back.
3. True North – the GPS has spoiled us and we rely on it to tell us where to go and how to get there. But, a well-developed sense of direction will warn you when the GPS is freaking out.
4. Chop wood, use a chainsaw, and stack firewood. Two of the three will cause serious pain if not done correctly.
5. The purpose of sex – don’t let your son’s knowledge of sex be what he learns on the bus or in the locker room.
6. Respect for women. Seriously.
7. Respect for people who are different racially or ethnically. Break the chain of racism.
8. Teach theology. Also, teach your sons why you are Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and so on.
9. Wash and wax a car.
10. Mow and trim the yard.
11. Skipping rocks on water.
12. How to handle fireworks. Boys will get fireworks at some point, and you’d better hope you’ve taught them a healthy respect for them.
13. How to fight. A time will come when they’ll need to know how to defend themselves.
14. How to walk away from a fight.
15. Teach them that cursing is for “conversational cripples”.
16. How to pray.
17. It’s OK to cry.
18. How to sell something. No matter what you do, you “sell” something to those around you.
19. How to laugh.
20. How to laugh at yourself.
While that may seem like a long list, it’s not exhaustive. There are many, many things that Dads must teach their sons. Maybe you can add to this list.