n a previous article, “5 Questions All Boys Need Answered By Their Fathers” we explored the five questions, that when answered, empower boys to grow up to become admirable men.
Chances are you clicked on this article, because you see the value in answering these questions and are looking for actionable strategies that will help your son/s get the answers they need.
If so, you are in the right place.
Where do I belong?
Being a boy is about self-discovery. The finer points of who they are, or aren’t, come with age, but it’s important to be a part of something larger than one’s self.
Throughout history, boys around the world have sought membership in all male groups to feel a sense of belonging. These groups could be but are not limited to street gangs, fraternities, and sports teams.
Clearly some of these group have more potential than others.
Taking the time to help your boy find his, “tribe” or “tribes” is important. This is especially true for boys who aren’t natural athletes and don’t find belonging in their sports teams.
Be mindful that just because your son might be good at a sport or hobby doesn’t mean he really connects with his peers.
As a young boy, I wasn’t very athletic. I couldn’t catch and was told I threw like a girl, it was horrible.
It wasn’t until high school that I really grew comfortable in my body and began to enjoy sports.
My dad got me into Boy Scouts thinking this would fill that void. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with very many of the other scouts.
As a result, I began to wonder, do I belong anywhere?
Rich Legacy Strategy #1 – Encouragement
At Rich Legacy, we encourage fathers to encourage their sons to try new hobbies or sports, but never before asking him to pay attention to how well he gets along with the other boys in a given group. We also encourage fathers to check back in with their sons and ask if and why he connected with his peers.
This will help you gain insight about your sons social interests and preferences and begin the process of identifying his ideal tribe.
Can I do it?
Or, do I have what it takes?
My father’s way of showing me love was always to enthusiastically show me the, “right” way to do things.
He is a bright and analytical man, which lead him to show me what I missed or hadn’t thought of. This dynamic showed up everywhere from how to wash the dishes to asking for what I wanted.
This instilled an enormous amount of self-doubt in me. I refused to accept that I COULD even be, “smart” until I was in my early 20’s.
It is so important to find ways to communicate to your son that you believe in him and his abilities. He will spend a lifetime trying to prove himself to you and himself. In small doses this is healthy, but taken too far it can result in a painful journey.
Understanding his unique genius is an important part of finding and cultivating belief in himself.
My father’s approach combined with my struggles in test taking, math, and science compounded and presented me with the “proof” I needed to believe I wasn’t smart.
In reality, not to toot my own horn, I am very smart, just in other ways.
I never weighed my ability to read people, articulate my thoughts, think on my feet, and connect the dots as my own marks of genius. I now know this type of “genius” can be even more valuable in the real world than traditional “IQ.”
Rich Legacy Strategy #2 – Uncover Unique Genius
At Rich Legacy we truly believe that each child has his or her own unique genius! That’s why we have developed what we like to call the Genius Assessment. Shot us an email at [email protected] and put “Genius Assessment” in the subject line. We will gladly send you more info on helping you and your son uncover his unique genius.
Will I do it?
I used to be a quitter.
When things got tough I would just give up.
It was just easier.
My parents got to a point where they would challenge me, but would eventually let me quit if I pushed the issue long enough. It wasn’t lost of them how hard everything was for me.
I can only imagine how hard it was for them to watch me struggle, but in hindsight I needed to be held to the fire. I needed to learn that I could push through challenges.
Rich Legacy Strategy #3 – Set Goals and See Them Through
Finding the perfect combination of short-term and long-term goals is the best way we have found to set kids up for success.
Short-term goals ought to be challenging but also need not be super complex. For example, your son might aspire to reach the summit of a difficult hike.
Long-term goals are most successful when they are rooted in a bigger “why”. For example, earning a black belt in karate is much more meaningful and self-motivating if the bigger why of the goal is self-defense or competition vs just finishing what you started.
Have a clear conversation on the front end about commitment and what that means. Then consider having them sign a contract.
However, there is a difference between quitting and wasting your time. So we encourage you to set smaller goals that your son can accomplish before then deciding to do something else.
For example, if your son trys karate, perhaps his goal is to earn his second belt instead of going all the way to black. If he is still jazzed and wants to set another goal of earning his fourth belt great. To the contrary, if he has had his fill of karate, perhaps it is time to set a new goal entirely.
Why will I do it?
In other words, what is my purpose?
We started to touch on this in the previous section. However, the big “whys” are worthy of their own section!
Every boy (and man) needs a battle to fight, a mountain to climb, or a race to run. They need a mission. They need a purpose.
At Rich Legacy we believe that identifying your passions reveals your purpose, and through purposeful actions you find your ability to perform to your fullest potential.
The sooner your son finds his passion the easier his life (and yours) will be. A man or boy pursuing his passion is unstoppable. No one has to scold him, remind him, or push him in anyway to find success.
Once he realize how it makes him feel, he is drawn to pursue his passion with such power that the challenges of motivating a boy quickly disappear.
My passion is helping others and entrepreneurship. While I didn’t recognize the first aspect of my passion until much later in life, I’ve always been an entrepreneur.
The problem was that no one else ever recognized it. Why?
Because I figured it out on my own and began selling drugs. That was my way of exploring entrepreneurship. No adults were able to see, much less support my passion as a result.
Through your son’s unique gifts and natural abilities there lies his passion.
You cannot tell your son his passion. He must find it on his own. You can however support and guide him.
Let him know how proud you are that he has a passion and explain how this passion is part of his journey of self-discovery. Encourage him and support him by sharing your own journey of discovering your passion and purpose.
Rich Legacy Strategy #4 – Work It
Utilize your son’s unique genius and natural abilities, look for hobbies, jobs, projects, and mentors to let him explore areas that relate to or require his skill sets to be successful.
Am I a man?
This one is tough. My father was a great example of a man. He was kind and empathetic while still being a strong leader.
Despite this I was constantly looking to prove my manhood through fighting, aggression, and other bravado oriented behavior.
From what we’ve seen in other boys, this type of behaviors often results when previous questions raised in this article remain unanswered. Even good modeling from a spectacular father isn’t enough to prevent this type of behavior if boys don’t believe in themselves.
When unsure of yourself, your worth, and your value, it’s just easier to resort to that primal expressions of manliness.
Rich Legacy Strategy #5 – Model and Discuss What It Means to Be a Man
Lead by example and discuss with your son what it is to be a man. If he still pushes back, you may need to spend more time on the other questions first.
In addition to overcoming my own life’s challenges my team and I have had the pleasure of working with sons and father from across the globe. The advice contained in this article is the result of my personal experience as a boy, a man, and a family coach. I hope you find these questions and strategies actionable. If you want to dive deep, know that my team and I are standing by to help fathers raise our next generation of honorable men. Sometimes it takes a tribe to raise a man, we would be honored to have you and you son as a member of ours.