By: Shaykh Ismail Kamdar
This advice is aimed at fathers of teenagers who want their boys to grow into real men. It is my hope that a single generation of good parenting can reverse this trend of manchilds, and produce a new generation of manly men. Here are some tips for raising boys into men.
1. Be their model
Children model what their parents do, not what they say. This is especially true when it comes to gender roles and dynamics. In the past, parents did not need to teach masculinity because children would absorb it organically from their fathers and mentors. They would observe in their fathers’ strong work ethic, selflessness, courage, and commitment to one’s family.
In the past, children could simply watch their fathers model these amazing qualities, but in some societies, entire generations of boys have missed out on this. Due to absent fathers, effeminate fathers, cheating fathers and abusive fathers, these boys did not get to see any positive role models of masculinity. But all is not lost. The current generation can revive this practice of passing down this knowledge organically.
Fathers need to be conscious of this and actively model the qualities they want their sons to have. If you want your son to grow up to be hardworking, you need to become hardworking first. If you want to raise a courageous young man who will lead his people, then you need to become that too. Parenting begins with modelling; your actions speak louder than anything you can say, so be very conscious of everything you model to your children.
Be a great husband, a great father, a great man. Be their model. Let them observe a happy marriage, good parenting, and a righteous man. Let them see the benefits of a man being manly and a woman being ladylike in observing their parents’ relationship. This is the best way to convey masculinity to the next generation in an organic manner.
2. Connect them with mentors
Mentoring was a crucial part of young adulthood for men in the past. As boys came of age, they would latch onto community leaders and learn from them. This would give them access to wisdom, experience, and knowledge that their parents might not necessarily have. A mentor helps a young man grow to his full potential.
This concept of mentorship needs to be revived in our communities. Successful men need to take time to invest in the younger generation by developing such a relationship with young men in their communities. Parents too, need to actively seek out mentors for their sons in their fields of interest.
If you have a son who wants to be a scholar of Islam, help him develop a close mentorship relationship with a local scholar. If your son wants to be an author, connect him with a successful author. Whatever wisdom and experience your son need to reach his potential, help connect him with someone in the community who can give him that.
I am grateful that I grew up around many mentors. I lost my father when I was eight years old, but I was never short of father figures. I have had mentors in Islamic work, scholarship, Dawah, writing, homeschooling, and parenting. Each of these men played a crucial role in shaping me into the man I am today. Helping a young man find a good mentor is one of the best things you can do to help him reach his potential.
3. Give them responsibility from a young age
One of the reasons why boys do not grow up today is because their parents spoil them for too long. It is understandable if a parent spoils a toddler or a baby. The child is still young, and the parent is excited and looking for ways to express their love. But if the relationship never evolves beyond this, that child never grows up.
Responsibilities, hardships, and the challenges of life are what cause a boy to man up. When parents shelter their children from the challenges of life and do not give them any responsibilities, that child remains in a state of perpetual childhood. Such a parent is not doing their son any favours. They are stunting his growth, holding him back from reaching his potential and making him dependent and useless. Boys need responsibilities to grow.
Parents must increase their son’s responsibilities as he grows older. They must give him a bigger role in the home, whether it is assisting with chores, overseeing their own education, taking care of younger siblings, and fixing things around the home. When a young man is trusted with responsibilities, he grows faster.
Along with responsibility, parents must also let him deal with the challenges of life himself, whenever he can. At times, parents may need to step in, but sometimes you need to give a young man space to fix his own mess. This experience of making a mistake, learning from it, and fixing it is a necessary part of the journey from boyhood to manhood. If you want your son to grow up, give him responsibilities and let him learn to solve problems on his own. He will grow up faster.
4. Encourage young marriage
This is perhaps the most difficult point to convince parents of. In the modern world, young men spend their teenage years and twenties watching pornography and fornicating. They only settle down and get married in their thirties after a life of sin. Some parents naively think that their sons can wait until their thirties without falling into sin while living in a culture of sin. This often ends badly, either with a porn addiction that kills all drive or reason to marry, or it ends with fornication that comes with its own complications and social problems.
In the past, boys would marry around the time of puberty. The responsibility of having a spouse, and soon after children, forces a boy to grow up, work hard, and become a real man. I am not saying a boy should marry when they reach puberty, but at least in their early twenties. A man is at his sexual peak between puberty and thirty. It is unnatural, unhealthy, and dangerous for a man to spend this period alone.
I strongly suggest that parents make marriage easy for young adults. Whether it means financially supporting them as they build their lives or it means helping them start a business at a young age, every family needs to figure out how they can make this work.
Some parents worry that their son is not ready for marriage. If you raise him well, and he is serious about marriage, then getting married young will force him to grow up, man up, and reach his full potential. Nothing forces a man to work hard and achieve his goals, like being responsible for a family.
5. Push them to be the best versions of their selves
Boys need a push. If parents coddle them and spoil them, they see no reason to grow up. A boy needs a push to become a man. He needs to know that his parents expect great things from him. Parents need to speak to their sons about their gifts, skills, and potential. They must let their sons know that they have a bigger role to play in the ummah, and they expect them to embrace that role.
Parents help their sons figure out what their gifts and passions are and help them find a career that aligns with their gifts and passions. They should facilitate their son’s growth in that area, so he can reach his full potential. When a young man discovers what he wants to do with his life, he grows up overnight.
When a young man realizes what he is good at and wants to do with his life, you will see him transform overnight into a driven, hardworking, studious man determined to make his dream a reality. When he reaches that point, give him space to grow in that field, and get ready to let him go soon.
6. Have open communication on difficult topics
When your son hits puberty, he becomes a young man. At that point, your parenting style needs to evolve to meet these changes. One crucial change is to develop a more advisory role in his life. Your son is going through changes and dealing with new challenges, challenges that you may have faced at his age. He needs someone to talk to about these issues.
If you can be that person for him, it can form an unbreakable bond between you. But not all parents are able to discuss difficult topics with their sons. If, for whatever reason, you feel like you are unable to offer them the advice they need, then you can always connect them with someone you can, whether it is a family member, community leader, or mentor.
Boys need an elder to talk to, to help them work through their new feelings and bodily changes and learn to control their urges. They need guidance on what to do with their lives and how to reach their full potential. Parents can play this role in their life or outsource it to a respected elder. Either way, boys need such a relationship to grow faster.
7. Allow them to grow up
One reason why a lot of young boys never grow up is because their parents do not give them space to do so. Some parents cling to their sons’ childhood and never let go. They continue to baby the young man deep into adulthood. I have met twenty and even thirty-year-old men who are still treated like children and continue to behave like children. This is disastrous for a young man’s development.
One of the best gifts you can give a young man is space to grow up. After puberty, give him more space, privacy, and room to grow. Let him explore topics of interest, learn to support himself, and develop crucial life skills. Do not hold him back from learning to drive, travel alone, or start a business.
When parents let their sons grow up, then they become men. In many cases today, the reason a boy has not grown up is because his parents are in his way. Get out of the way and watch your little boy grow into a real man.
8. Let them go
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they need to let their son go. This does not mean cutting ties or avoiding communication. It means letting them live their life as a man, without interference. Once your son is a married man and financially independent, it is time to take a step back. You have done your job and raised him well, not let him live his life and use that extra time to focus on your own goals and dreams.
Be there for him as a friend, a mentor, and someone he can rely on in emergencies, but do not interfere with his marriage, career, or personal life. Let him go, and he will fly and achieve his full potential.
Source: Izzah Academy
About the Author: Shaykh Ismail Kamdar is an expert in Fiqh, Tafsir, History, Personal Development, and Education.
Check out an Online Course by Shaykh Ismail Kamdar: Foundations of a Strong Marriage presented by Izzah Academy.
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