Top 5 Father/Son Skills that Need to be Passed Down
Top 5 Father/Son Skills – Why the Need?
As a new Father of a handsome 4 month old baby boy, I find myself constantly scrolling though Facebook and parenting web sites, to try and absorb as much information as I can on how to keep my child safe. At 4 months my main concern is protecting this peanut from any environmental harm. (Is the house too hot or cold, should I put a blanket in the crib, what is this rash and mostly asking myself is that NORMAL?) Most of these issues are easy to solve, as there is so much information out there and when in doubt call the pediatrician and get some ointment. Whatever it is it, it will clear up in about a week.
A great Web site that I’ve used for parenting info is http://www.parenting.com/gallery/babyproofing-your-home
Now that the old electrical outlets have been replaced, the cleaning closet is secured with a ratchet like plastic lock and the NiteQuill is out of a toddlers reach, my mind has jumped to the future. His first day of elementary school, first day riding his bike to the park with his buddy without supervision, his first fender bender, holly shit… his first date!
I realized my days of putting ointment on something and walking away are over. I will need to teach this young man how to fend for himself. One day he will be an adult and it is the job of the father to ensure he has the tools to become a man that can take care of his own family one day.
This concept scares the crap out of me but I came up with the list below to categorize what survival skill set’s have helped me to get to this point. Please Note: The term “Survival” is more of a broad term here so I’m not going to provide a diagram showing you how to attach 511 cord to your zombie machete just in case you need to make a snare. That’s a discussion for another time.(Maybe in the 6-10 list of things to teach your son) My goal here is to provide some insight on fatherly activities/skills that can be transferred into your son’s everyday life, enabling him in to grow up into a man worth knowing.
Build / Break / Fix something and do it often:
If you have two left hands and you’re terrible with any sort of tools, you know firsthand the stigma of be known as the “Unhandy guy.” Don’t pass that trait on. The only way to get proficient with tools is to work with tools. I’m not implying you need to re-build a Chevy Big Block.(If youre scratching your head, just click here) It doesn’t have to be an epic project of biblical proportions. Just go on YouTube or Instructables.com, pick a do-it-you’re-self project and see it though. Youtube is a great resource for how to build or fix something but you have to MAKE IT FUN!
Being able to visualize the construction process straightens out the learning curve and allows you to better understand what you’re getting into. Mistakes will happen, materials will be wasted and even a curse word (or two) will be used, but both your problem solving skills and proficiency with different types of tools will get better and better with each project. This father son bonding time is invaluable and often wasted.
Some fun project Ideas:
• Build a wood tool box for his tools. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T756ucRQ4vs
• Change a car tire (whether it needs it or not, he should learn on a day that is not an actual emergency, but act it out as if it was https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joBmbh0AGSQ (to protect your newly acquired pride, do it once yourself for your own safety and your son’s)
• Build a picnic table https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w_EVbXllVQ
In such a fast paced society, with magical little computers in your pockets that also make phone calls and fully stocked supermarkets, it’s easy to detach ourselves from our food. Where it comes from and the work it takes to obtain and process it is much more involved then getting it from the produce isle. Gardening, fishing, hunting, camping, these activities are all done in nature and in some form of natural environment. Note: If you are new to any of these activity’s or don’t know where to start, check with your State’s Department of Environmental Conservation web site and they will link you to hunter-safety classes and other outdoor training classes. Out-door outfitters like REI and EMS also provide local outdoor adventure classes for beginners. See links below
When teaching any of these activity’s above, the skills below will follow:
• You teach them wake up at the crack of dawn. (Valuable in all social and professional arena’s)
• You break them away from the social pressures of modern society.
• You teach them to quietly observe nature.
• You teach them the value of an animal’s life and the gravity of deciding to take it down (hunt or fish) for subsistence.
• You teach them the balance of an equo system and our responsibility to keep it safe.
• You teach them the responsibility of the safe use of many different tools: Knives, fire, hatchets, bow and arrows, firearms etc. This sense of responsibility for the safety of yourself and others will transfer to other aspect of his life.
• You teach them how to process meat/produce and that is a stepping stone to teaching the skill of cooking. Every man should know how to cook a great meal by the time he is an adult, period.
• Gardening can be hard. Start small and plant a tomato plant or a small herb garden. This will cement the importance of clean soil and fresh food. It will teach the value of hard work and the importance of consistency when nurturing a small life. This also ties in to cooking an awesome meal.
Martial Arts and Sports:
As your son grows up into his teens and matures the hormones start kicking in. The boy is getting man muscles, man energy and a strong desire to fit in with his pears. This is a potentially dangerous (but occasionally hilarious) combination. This angst (for lack of a better word) if not directed can lead to them joining a bad crowd and other self-destructive behaviors to numb these new pressures in their life. Vigorous exercise helps turn down the volume of these pressures. Sport and competition are great way of making vigorous exercise fun and leads them into a potentially more active lifestyle as an adult.
In my experience the most beneficial sports activity has been marital arts. As a lifelong practitioner, the confidence you get when you are competent in the fighting art’s is like no other. If you’re good at baseball or soccer, you achieve confidence though practice and the comradery with the team is fulfilling the need of respect of your pears. But the underlying fear of being beat up or of needing to prove to yourself to your peers that you’re tough is still very real. This need is toned down with Marital Arts because you test yourself and face the fear of defeat daily in the dojo or on the mat. This daily test cements the feeling of responsibility and respect he should have for himself and the ones around him.
You are never the toughest guy in the dojo. The humility he will experience from defeat will give him a healthy admiration for those around him, especially those weaker then him. His victory’s will build the confidence to not to give up. To quote Uncle Ben (from Spiderman not the guy who makes 10 min rice) “With great power comes great responsibility”.
Martial Arts has no age limit and is not just for your son. Do some research online, figure out what self-defense discipline fits you and your son’s goals and try it out. Most places will provide the first lesson free. Don’t feel obligated to sign up right away, look at a couple places and pick the one where the environment and the teaching style works for both of you. Going to a bad school and staying with it, will only give you a bad perception of the martial arts community.
Have your son take the kid’s class and you take the adult class. Learn together, practice at home together. This training provides an avenue for you to exercise and remove some of the stress of your day. The removal of stress will make you a more patient father and husband and your son will see first hand that you are never too old to learn something new. He learns that a fitness conscious lifestyle does not stop after varsity sports in high school. Plus the practice time can make fun memories your son will have and will likely replicate with his son one day.
No long rant here, 71% of the world is water.(It’s true, I googled it) Swimming is a must and it open’s doors to other awesome water based activity’s like surfing, paddle boarding, jet skiing etc. Daniel Tosh said it best “Try to frown on a Jet ski.” (Oh yeah, I linked the hell out of that bit) The sooner you introduce water and swimming to your son, the less you have to worry about accidents around swimming pools, during a play date, bathtubs ext. If you never learned to swim yourself, take the first step and get some lessons. Go to the YMCA and then plan a fun family outing to a water park or snorkeling. If it seems like I am telling you to go to a water park or go snorkeling, I am. It’s awesome and kids love doing awesome stuff.
Learn an Instrument:
I will be the first to tell you I never did. I wish I had and know it’s not too late. Perhaps I will take my own advice and get some lessons with my son when he’s old enough. My sister’s are both talented in the musical arts, this skill has greatly improved there live’s. I’m assuming you’re on board and already planning to teach or get involved with the skills/activity’s 1-4 in some manor with your son. So you will need to round off some of your own egotistically sharp Alpha Male edges. Learning an instrument is a great way to do that. Plus let’s be honest, everyone digs the guitar player.
I Hope this article has inspired you in some way. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section and keep the conversations going. Maybe you have a memory of doing something awesome with your dad at one point or wish you had. Close your eyes, think back and comment on what I missed or what you would include on your list. Sometime’s the day-to-day responsibilities of being a father trumps the creative, day wasting adventures that we wish we could have. You are the most powerful character in your son’s life. A superhero of sorts that lifts the heaviest boxes, fixes the most broken lightbulbs and chases off the most intimidating monster’s living under the bed/in the closet. If you don’t think thats the description of the guy you see in the mirror every morning, don’t worry. He already see’s you like that. All you have to do is show up.
I leave you with a quote from Robert A. Heinlein: that I feel fully explains my goals for my son.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein