My son is lucky enough to be loved by two men. His father and his stepfather. They are quite different from each other but, I believe, they both have a lot to offer him. And, in their own ways, I pray that these are the things they leave with him.
For his father to love his mother – fiercely, passionately. Teach him to be romantic and the protector of his family. Show him the ways a woman needs to be loved. If you aren’t married to his mother, expect him to love her anyway. Let him know that, not only are you ok with it, but that you expect it from him.
For his dad to wrestle with him – in the living room, in the pool, and in the backyard. Teach him that appropriate physical touch is important.
To help you “fix” things – get him his own tools and let him help. Teach him that we take care of the things that are ours. Show him how to change a tire, remodel a room, and hang a picture.
To see his father buy his mother flowers – and sometimes let him give them to her. Show him how to fall in love, and stay in love, with a good woman.
For his dad to play with him – video games, pass, or superheroes. Let him love the things you love but let him know it’s ok to love his own things too.
To talk about sex – honestly. Let him know that all men have been where he is at, but that he needs to respect women anyway.
To cry – let him know that, after his need to be tough has faded away, it’s ok to cry.
To learn how to fight – but then let him know there are better ways. Make sure he knows when he should stand up: for his family, his girl, the kid with autism down the street. Then make sure he knows how to back down when it’s just not worth it.
To have someone listen – to everything. The big things and the little ones. Let him know that you will always be there to listen to him. Always.
To wear your shoes – and your hats. Let him see how big you really are, but assure him that he will, someday, fill those shoes just fine.
To learn to pee standing up – Mom can’t do everything, fellas.
To learn respect – he needs to be expected to treat people with respect and to demand respect from others. If he does that, every other lesson will teach itself.
For someone to answer his questions – he thinks you know everything. Know everything. But in those moments you don’t, find the answers together. It’s ok for him to see that you aren’t perfect.
His dad to be his best buddy – and his biggest fan. Watch the game together, explore together, build things together, make messes together. Cheer him on from the sidelines and the audience. No matter what he chooses to be involved in, support him 100%.
His dad to be his hero – give him piggyback rides and high fives. Teach him to throw a curveball. Teach him to drive. Teach him to spit. Teach him to shave. Teach him to love. Be the kind of hero only you can be to him. And teach him how to be a hero someday too.