11 Things I Want My Sons to Know Before They Become Fathers

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Marie Roker-Jones reminds parents that we’re not just raising children, we’re leaving a legacy.

I have a funny pin on Pinterest that pretty much sums up my responsibility as a mom of boys. I think sometimes we get so caught up in raising our sons, that we forget that these boys and young men will one day be husbands and fathers.

We forget that each moment we share with our sons are teachable moments. We forget that we’re not just raising children, we’re leaving a legacy. I want my sons to learn from my accomplishments as well as my failures and challenges. I want them to understand that parenting is not a chore but a responsibility.

1. Love=Action

I want my sons to know that although gifts and words are nice, nothing spells love like spending quality time with your children. Don’t try to buy your children’s love by lavishing them with gifts. Your children are not a burden. The time you spend making money for your family can never replace the time you spend with your family.

2. Don’t Be an Enigma to Your Children

Take the time to talk to your children about yourself and your life. Don’t keep them guessing who you are. They shouldn’t find out things about you after you’re gone. Let them get to know you. Tell them your story so they can share it with their children.

76303_10151435928916798_77767825_n3. Share What You Know

Your children will learn more from your mistakes than from your success. Give them insight into what you’ve learned. Share your skills, experiences and your talents.

4. Keep Your Children Out of Adult Conflicts

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t put your children in the middle of your conflicts. Even if someone else is doing it, be the bigger person. Don’t force your children to choose sides.

5. Be a Husband and a Father, Not a Baby Daddy

Things happen but I hope that you’ve been paying attention enough to know to protect yourself. Make sure you know who you’re getting involved with before you make a commitment to a relationship or parenting. Make sure your relationship is healthy and balanced. You want to bring your children into a home filled with love and peace.

6. Change Your Vocabulary From “Me, Mine, My” to “We, Us, and Our”

Once you become a parent, you relinquish your right to be selfish. You can not expect life to go on as normal. You can not expect others to pick up your slack. You have to compromise and make sacrifices.

7. Have Realistic Expectations of Your Children

Your son or daughter doesn’t have to like or enjoy the things you do. Your children are not miniature copies of you. Don’t try to live vicariously through them. Support their dreams.

8. Parenthood is Not About Perfection, But About Trial and Error

You’ll never really get it right. No book, expert advice can help you as much as being active and being involved in the lives of your children. You’ll make mistakes. Your children will challenge you. You’ll have power struggles and disappointments.

9. Your Children Will Learn More From Watching You Than Listening to You

Practice what you preach, otherwise your children will think you’re a hypocrite. They’ll watch everything you do and how you treat others.

10. Listen More Than You Speak

Your children need you to listen to them and respect their thoughts and opinions. Your children need to know you’re paying attention to them. What your children have to say is just as important as what you have to say.

11. Don’t Let Society Define Your Role as a Father

Society and the media will present to you how you should think or behave as a father. Do what is best for your family.

I do my best each day to walk the walk as a parent. I know that my sons need me to guide them and give them the tools they need to become great fathers.

What do you want your son to know before he becomes a father?


Originally appeared at Raising Great Men



Lead photo: Flickr/Susan Sermoneta

About Marie Roker-Jones

Marie Roker-Jones is a wife and mom of two boys. She is a NAMA Certified Anger Management Specialist, Youth Mental Health First Aider, and Certified Male Youth Life Skills Trainer She is the senior editor of the Raising Boy section of The Good Men Project and the Founder of Raising Great Men™ which provides parenting programs and workshops for raising boys and navigating the challenges of military deployments. Marie created #ManYouWantToBe, programs that help boys and young men to "mind up", not man up. Marie is co-founder of #CompassionConvos, #CompassionConvos are cross and inter-generational conversations using social media, online and in person around difficult subjects of bias. Conversations include, and are not limited to racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. These conversations challenge biases through dialogue and taking action. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+


  1. ogwriter says:

    I think you have some good stuff here…However, we in America give far too much credence to what children say. There is wisdom in the old adage,” children are better seen not heard.” I along with their mom, have raised three children, who by American standards are considered very successful. We accomplished this living in one of the worst killings fields for youth in America; Oakland, California.
    I have for the last ten years worked as a coach/mentor for at-risk youth. As I see it, one of the problems children have is the false believe in their own words and ideas, which are the ideas of a child.
    Children lack wisdom because they have no life experiences to draw upon, nor do they possess the requisite brain development to make sound judgments and decisions. Which is a scientific fact.
    Even for an adult, usually the first thoughts about anything amounts to a shitty rough draft of an essay.

    One cannot equate the thought processes of an child to an adult. They are not equal in any way shape or form. One of the first things I have to tell youth I work with is this,” You know little of nothing, but if you keep your eyes and ears open and THINK long and hard before you open your mouths, maybe in ten or twenty years you will be something. You are not my equal. I am 58 years old and have raised kids. I have more experiences than you, more wisdom and intelligence than you and I have accomplished more than you.” We don’t respect wisdom and age nearly enough in America.

    • You bring up some valid points. It’s important for children and young people to heed the advice and wisdom of those who are willing to share their experiences. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on raising three successful children despite the odds. That is commendable!

  2. Gilbert M. Perez says:

    I want my sons to know “responsibility” before they become fathers. I want them to be righteous and responsible men. Thus, they will be aware of the possible consequences of their thoughts, words and actions.

  3. Gint Aras says:

    “Be a Husband and a Father, Not a Baby Daddy.” Could I buy you a drink? Could I send you a home baked loaf of bread? I’ve been saying this to my students over and over and over. If you want a baby daddy, you’ll get one. If you want to be a baby daddy, you’ll be one. A baby daddy is not a damn father. (And please don’t ever call me a baby daddy.)

    • Thanks Gint! I hate the term “baby daddy”. Why would someone want to reduce themselves to a term devoid of any connection to your child? I agree that a baby daddy is not a father. Making a commitment to the well being of your child makes you a father.

    • Tom Brechlin says:

      Gint, I’m with you on this one. The FIRST thing I thought of was “be a husband” when I read the heading. I was cocked and loaded ….. Great relief when I read through the article. Marie Roker-Jones, you rock


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