What to Know About How a Son Should Treat His Father

One of the most important relationships for men in life is between a son and his father. A man raising a young man must teach his son to be respectful and empathetic while being strong and capable. The interactions between the two will impact each person’s life even into old age. What should you know about how a son should treat his father?

A son should treat his father as the role model he is. Respect for the experience and role of a father is a son’s primary duty, while a father must earn that respect by being a man worth emulating. Sons use fathers as a benchmark when trying to understand the world around them.

In some families relationships can be hard. With fathers it can be exceptionally hard for a son who doesn’t respect roles and experience. When it comes to having a healthy bond between father and son, everything is based on respecting each other in the proper way. Read on and learn everything a son should know about how to treat his father.

How Sons Should Treat Their Fathers Impacts Their Future

The relationship between father and son can be complicated if a father doesn’t set proper boundaries and expectations. Numerous studies such as this one by Andrew C. Sparkes, PhD, have highlighted the far-reaching impact of the father-son relationship, spanning far longer than 18 years of childhood.

Fathers are still fathers even until their last moments on earth. The way they play out their roles may shift, but they will always be fathers. Sons are the same way. It takes a confident and healthy man to continue to give place to his father even when he is struggling to become the person he wants to be and exert his own independence.

Not only can there be mistakes and failings on the part of parents, there most definitely will be. There may even be ultimate betrayals of trust as when families decide not to live under the same roof for various reasons. Here I am talking about voluntary separation and not about for periods of time when a father may have to take work in another city.

If there are extended period of time where fathers and sons aren’t together or if the entire nuclear family has fallen apart, there could be problems that might seem very challenging to overcome. This can cause a child to feel responsible or unloved once a rift like this begins to grow. How a son reacts to these situations can affect the rest of his life.

Fathers that are absent is one of the major problems in societies today. This doesn’t mean that sons can blame his father that is not around for their problems, but it will affect at least in some way most that they do in life.

It doesn’t change the fact that a son should respect his father and look to him as a way to view being a man. This may even entail sons defining how not to be or what not to do by their example. The situation simply is not ideal and may leave scars that last throughout life.

The roles of father and son do not change, no matter how hard they are to uphold. Some of us have it much harder than others. That is the way it always has been and always will be.

Leaving absent fathers aside for now, how is it that a son should treat his father in general to ensure both are able to move out from the relationship and accomplish more in their lives?

Ways sons can improve their relationships with their father are:

  • Be Respectful – If a son doesn’t respect his father, everything will be an uphill battle, not only for him, but for the entire family. Families need their fathers to be a rock for them in discipline, character, and protection. If tension that is avoidable develops because of simple struggles of the will and preferences, sons are hurting themselves as well as the rest of their families. Everyone relies on fathers and when a son tears him down with words and disrespect, he and everyone else looses.
  • Follow the Rules – Discipline is not simply a list of rules, but a guide to help a son develop into a productive man in society. Without rules, sons don’t have a guide to keep them from imposing their whims on others and harming themselves as much as those around them. Some fathers are better than others at setting boundaries, but that is simply every son’s lot in life. Staying in the lines builds character, and the harder it is, the more the character. 
  • Have Talks – Father-son talks are a staple way to solve problems that may arise in a son’s life. All paternal relationships should rooted in love, but love is an action. Feelings are only byproducts of love. Talking about tough issues and giving the advice that needs to be heard instead of what a son wants to hear is part of a dad’s role. Son’s will do themselves a great service if they listen, even if it is something they don’t want to hear. All dad’s were sons’ at one time. We know what sons are going through as they fight emotions, desires for independence, and develop their moral consciences. Dads are not always right, but they have made the mistakes son’s are about to make and can help them avoid some of them.
  • Acknowledge Experience – Much of what I have said before is all based on this point. The experience someone has is one of the most valuable things that they can use to teach. There are issues of morality, truth, and other more intangible things that are learned, but those too get included in the trials and errors of a dad’s experience. This wealth of knowledge is something son’s should value, listen to, and use to shape their own futures.

All fathers have the things they have done in the past that keep them up at night. All good fathers want to save their sons from the same fate. Sons should understand this and also that their fathers are simply men. They are not perfect, and that in and of itself is another aspect to learn from.

Being willing to learn from a father’s triumphs and from his failings without judgement from unearned seats atop imaginary pedestals can not only help a relationship with a father, but can enrich the life of a son.

How Sons Should Treat Different Types of Fathers

Most know that a relationship between a father and son will change over the years. What surprises many is that though the dynamic changes, trying to throw off the roles that define them is a recipe for disaster.

We understand the people around us by how well or badly they uphold the roles that they fill. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, teachers, priests, elected officials, etc. These all are roles that we fill and judge others by every day. We decide by what we see them do if they are good or bad at their role. If we try to change the boundaries of these roles to fit a desire or whim or try to redefine them, our since of reality becomes frayed.

Our peaceful family dynamic, friendships, and professional relationships all hinge on us upholding the roles we play. When sons stop giving the place to their fathers that they deserve because of age, accomplishments, or failures the health of his family, himself, and his father suffer.

If this is the case, how then should sons treat their fathers in the different stages of their lives?

How Younger Boys Should Treat Their Fathers

When a boy is small, they want nothing more than to be their dad’s best friend. They walk, talk, and act like them as much as possible. At this stage, a son should always follow the rules and be loving and respectful towards their fathers. It is easy for sons to be myopic at this age, but they have a great chance at a fruitful and loving relationship by keeping it between the lines.

Small boys are more welcoming of hugs and kisses from their dads. Dads are more comfortable with this during these ages so this is another great way to build a bond. Showing affection opens a pathway for those actions to be returned and grow into respect and trust in the future.

Some fathers didn’t have that kind of love from their fathers and could be awkward at first. But knowing the trust and a sense of safety is the goal, most dads do make the attempt on some level. For sons, it will come naturally with a father that puts forth the effort.

Older Boys Should Have a Playful Relationship With Their Fathers

As a boy grows into a man, he should have a rapport with his father that allows them to play and do activities together. At this stage in their relationship, the son should know his father’s protective boundaries. Getting to know the boundaries is important because it allows the father to let his guard down and show more of his personality.

One of the best things about fathers is their almost instantaneous willingness to roughhouse with their sons, no matter how tired they may be. And it’s no wonder than sons are enamored by the thrill of being tossed, chased, and wrestled to the floor, by a loving yet ‘tough’ father.

Whether fathers play wrestles their son on the living room floor or decide to start an all-out water gun fight (Amazon linked) in the backyard, sons benefit tremendously from fathers who teach them how to love, talk, show respect, and just ‘be’ through play.

Once a father has let down his guard, and puts away the stresses of the day a son should see how a man can retain a sense of himself even in the midst of pressures and responsibilities. This allows the son to find out more about who they are outside of just being their dad. Once this gap opens, there is lots of room for the son and father to become much better acquainted and improve their relationship even further.

A Young Man Could Have a Strained Relationship With His Father

Fathers are often the ones teaching sons how to drive.

Young men trying to find their identity can often begin to have a strained relationship with their fathers. Navigating the late high school and early college years can be hard on a son. He has to spend large amounts of time away from home and could even never live under the same roof as his father again.

Maintaining the relationship by concentrating on shared interests and staying in contact will keep things going until the next phase of the relationship. Once the distance has been adjusted, sons can begin to make strides towards finding their own places in life while learning what it takes to build and support a family of their own.

A Man Respecting His Father Leads to a Strong Adult Relationship

When a son becomes a man, his relationship with his father should be stable if it was built on respect in the beginning. Once the son has moved off and begun his own life, they can see each other in a more dynamic way than a child sees the connection between a son and father. The relationship changes again from a custodial role to one of respect and admiration.

At this point, the son should be self-sufficient.  That means he should be providing for himself and living in his own home. Being out on his own takes financial and other burdens off of the father and allows them both space to grow and go about their daily lives. The son may even be starting a family of his own that will take up most of his time.

When a Father Reaches Old Age, He Needs a Devoted and Loving Son

In the later stages of a father’s life, the son could be as much caretaker as family. A son needs to be prepared for their role to reverse if his dad becomes ill, frail, or declines mentally. If there are health complications with the father, there could even be periods when the father must live with the son. A good son takes this on the chin. He doesn’t allow the complications to affect the relationship.

Growing older is trying for everyone, and something that many of us have spent little time thinking about until it happens. The relationship between son and father could become strained, but a strong bond should have formed that will easily overtake any obstacles the pair could encounter with all the time spent together.

Reasons a Father and Son Relationship is Important

An absent father has a significant impact on the family dynamics, and is particularly damaging for sons.

When a boy is young, they want nothing more than to be like their dads. They try on their work boots and imitate their actions in hopes of becoming like the one person they love and respect. The relationship is crucial because it will be the basis for most of their friendships and relationships throughout their lives.

They end up being like their dad in many aspects. If you would like to read more about how sons become like their dads, see our article here.

A Son Follows the Example Set by His Father

Fathers will be emulated by their sons. When boys are little, they want nothing more than to do as their daddy does. A father should be an example for his son in how to treat others and themselves. A father who doesn’t spend time with their son teaches them nothing and allows another, or no one, to teach their child.

Simply spending time with children tells them a lot. It says with actions that they matter enough for a parent to give them a part of their day. When a father doesn’t have time for his son, it says volumes.

A son should follow an example of good character by always doing what is right and being fair. The example set the right way by a father shows his son that following the rules and being empathetic can lead to a happy and successful life full of people who love and care for you. This sets the stage for the boy’s life going forward in every aspect.

If a father is not a good example for his son, it can also be a learning tool for the child as he grows. My father was absent and when he was around, he was a poor role model at best. I used this as an example of how not to be. I vowed that my sons would not need to overcome the obstacle of a father like this.

As a son of a neglectful and abusive father, I used it as an impetus to find examples of good fathers and immolate them. Though I will always be somewhat scarred by the actions of the men in my younger life, I learned to pick myself up, find what is true, and just do that. Sons can learn from their fathers in many ways.

To read about how a father affects the son’s relationship with the mother, check out an article my wife wrote called, What to Know About Sons Who Treat their Mothers Poorly

Through His Father, a Son Learns the Importance of Family

There is a common myth today that family is those who you choose to include. This simply isn’t the case. We get one father and one mother and for better or worse, that is our lot. This doesn’t mean that adopted children don’t have loving families that include them. It does mean that they are worse for not being included in the lives of stable biological mothers and fathers.

A father’s job is to show a son how important it is to love and respect their family and spend time with them. One of a son’s most valuable lessons can be learned here. We don’t wish in our last moments that we spent more time at work, learned more about science, or made more things. We wish we has more time, more time with family. Son’s can learn this from a good dad.

A family doesn’t mean that you have to cook a huge dinner every Sunday or spend time around many people you don’t know. Family means that you can be together, anywhere, and feel like you belong and are loved. A family who enjoys being together often has fewer problems and can squash the ones they do have. 

A Father Teaches a Son to Live With The Result of His Actions

One of the hardest things for a child to learn is how to live with consequences. By giving a child responsibilities, like chores, and placing a condition on their jobs, a father teaches his son about actions and results.

By not doing their duties, the father can take away the child’s free time, access to the internet etc. Doing the hard thing is love, not simply a feeling that comes from a smile. Son’s need to respect the fact that dads many times must be the ‘bad guy’ even if he would rather just do anything eles.

A son should know that every action they make is going to have consequences. These consequences can be as mild as losing their dessert that night or as severe as a grounding for several weeks. Whatever the punishment, if fathers make sure it is followed and the son knows the reason for their discipline, sons have a responsibility to follow.

This goes for calling out a son’s actions even into adulthood. Son’s usually begin to realize the extent that their dad’s had to go to in order to make sure they turned out with character. It becomes obvious when they start having to do the same thing for their own kids.

Son’s would do well to learn from their dad’s sacrifices, because one day soon, they will be called upon to do the same.

The Take Away of What to Know About How a Son Should Treat His Father

A son, just like his father, has duties and actions that they must take whether they are happy or hard. Following rules and being respectful are at the top of the list.

A father and son’s relationship is crucial to the boy’s development and impacts his interactions for the rest of his life. As they both age, the relationship will change, and they become one of the most influential people in each other’s lives. 

For further reading, I suggest an article I’ve written titled: Do Sons Become Like Their Fathers? (Solved!)

Mathew Booe

Mathew Booe is a father of four, husband to Jackie since 1994, retired international competitor with over 50 wins, an international seminar instructor, a master instructor of hundreds of Little Ninjas each week, and the one bringing you the great content like you just read. Sign up for the newsletter to hear about his upcoming books before they are released to the public.

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