Saturday, June 6, 2009

Missing Dad

I am a single mother of a boy whose father is minimally involved. What do you have in the way of advice to see him develop into a man?

We would encourage you to focus strongly on your role as a mom. Often times, single moms or mothers whose spouses aren’t invested well in parenting, will try and function as both parents. You can’t play both roles, so let your focus remain on being the best mother you can to him.

In addition to that focus, we’d recommend three other ideas to consider:

1. Allow him to gravitate towards his dad and other men. A boy’s hunger for male attention is instinctive in every boy. Even when you see him chasing after a need that isn’t being met, allow him to do so. A part of every boy’s journey is reconciling himself to who his dad is and who he isn’t. This can be a very painful journey for many boys, but he has to come to these conclusions himself. You can’t shield him from this.

2. Help him find his way to strong, healthy, supportive male voices. When his dad isn’t involved, invested or available, he desperately needs male community. Find a school with strong male teachers, administrators, counselors, and coaches. Consider enrolling him in scouts, an excellent organization with strong male leaders and male community. We’d also advocate for helping him find his way to a youth group or small group experience where he has more intimate relationship with an adult male leader you trust and community as well.

3. Avoid the tendency to coddle him. As you recognize this longing, ache or hunger, you may feel a pull to compensate by coddling him or under-parenting him because you feel sorry for him. Coddling a boy in this way is never useful to his long-term masculine journey and may actually hinder it in a number of ways.

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