A significant part of a dad’s role with his son is to prepare him for life and competition. We all grow up under different circumstances, but I am convinced that those who have good fathers, or mentors, are much more likely to set goals and to reach them. Just being around as a male example is a tremendous advantage to a young boy growing up. But I’m going to take a huge leap here and discuss the ultimate in fatherly advice.
There are six activities or subjects I wish I had participated in or studied. I realized this after my son was grown or I would have suggested most of these to him. These six suggestions I think would best prepare a young man for an exceptional future. (Note: This advice also applies to daughters but is slanted to sons for brevity)
Certainly not all dads would want to give the following advice and most sons would not want to follow it. This advice is for future leaders. In my opinion, only one or two in one thousand young men would ever accomplish all six of these activities/subjects. After all, 71 percent could not even qualify for the military these days. Those young men, however, that would pursue this extensive yet broad education could achieve previously unimaginable goals!
Here are my six suggestions for almost certain success.
Be Involved in Sports
Okay, I thought I would start off with an activity that we should all understand and most agree on. A young man needs to experience competition. He doesn’t have to be athletic, but he does need to learn teamwork, get physical activity, learn to win with humility, and lose with the ability to rebound. If the competition is too tough, have them join a recreational or fun league. If too easy, increase the competition.
Join a Debate Team
Advise your son to join his school’s debate team as soon as he is eligible. This, like the other forthcoming suggestions, may be a hard sell. But learning how to talk in front of people, the art of persuasion, and logic are invaluable tools to develop. This will help him in school, higher education, work, and life in general. He will be far ahead of his contemporaries and more confident. Even if your son is not a star in debate, he will certainly learn quite a bit and learn quite a bit about himself. He should continue his speaking education by joining Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a very helpful, encouraging, and safe atmosphere to learn how to speak and work with others. You are never too young or too old to learn.
Learn How to Dance
If your son takes your advice to learn how to dance, he will thank you forever. It is THE way to meet the opposite sex. Girls and women love to dance and they often have a difficult time finding a partner. If your son can dance, he will get all their attention in a social situation. Other guys will be on the sidelines, virtually invisible, no matter how attractive they may be otherwise. The ability to dance with a partner is one of those skills that says, I'm not just smart, but I'm charming too! Learning to dance is also a confidence builder for any social situation. I really regret not knowing how to dance when I was younger!
I know you think I am really losing credibility with this suggestion. Few schools teach it and no one speaks it. So why do I think learning Latin would help? Your son’s vocabulary and ability to learn languages and other topics will be helped tremendously, and the meaning of unfamiliar words can often be determined just by a knowledge of Latin.
A quote from ‘Dorothy Sayers’ “Lost Tools of Learning”:
“I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this, not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least 50 percent [emphasis added].”
Latin is one of those topics that acts like a large umbrella, protecting you from the reign of ignorance.
Be Fluent in Finance
This is where you can help directly if you have skills in handling money. If you don’t have these skills, stay out of the way. I have met many children and adults that are clueless regarding how to make, spend, save, and invest money. Many lives and marriages have been ruined by bad financial decisions. Without going into the details of finance here, read “Teaching Your Kids Financial Responsibility”.
Fun with Philosophy
The practical reason to study philosophy is that it teaches young people critical thinking, intelligent decision-making and sound judgment. If a young person can demonstrate these skills--the skills employers really want--then they can be taught the specifics of most jobs by the employer. Philosophy develops our ability to look at different views and opinions and to see the big picture. Not only can this help your son in the workplace, but in friendships, marriage, and raising children.
Philosophy can also mean learning everyday things like values, beliefs, attitude, kindness, compassion, patience, ethics, etc. Where does a young man go to learn these things? Could it be you? If not, then you may need some self-education.
As an aside, I think grandparents should also take an active role in educating their grandchildren if possible. Sometimes a parent just isn’t experienced enough the first time around raising kids. I know I was clueless in so many ways while raising my children. Mentors also need mentors, even if they don’t use your advice.
Have a ‘Launch List’ for your children
The Ultimate List aside, we’ve all heard of a ‘Bucket List’--things you want to do before you die. I suggest developing a ‘Launch List’ for your children. A list of things, tailored to each of your children, that you would like them to learn as they prepare for an independent, successful life. Your Launch List doesn’t have to be the ultimate list--just what will work best for each of your children.
In summary, in no way do I imply your son could not succeed without all these six suggestions. My son is successful in his career and personal life although he participated in only two of the six . But don't assume that knowledge and experience in as many areas as possible is not extremely helpful to being an all-around success. If you have the means and your son has the drive and potential, these are lessons that will allow him to be all he could ever hope to be. But anything you do to prepare your son for his independence in life is indispensable for life!