Research tells us that sons need a father in their lives.
The negative effects of father absence include a whole host of terrible outcomes for young boys. Just hearing these statistics causes fear to rise up inside of us. We know all too well that our sons are growing up without their fathers.
I sat in on many discussions about all of the horrible things that boys without fathers get involved in. All I could think about was the fact that my sons were growing up without their father present. I heard how they (my sons!) were more likely to drop out of school, commit crimes, become a teen father, abuse alcohol, become addicted to drugs, and be poor. Oh, my heart!! I could not stand the pain that ripped through me at the thought that the impact on my children would be lifelong and so tragic.
Connecting with your children
I determined to keep my sons from suffering any more than they already were. Watching m sons grow up visiting their father in prison was hard, but the thought of adding all those other awful things was unbearable. No way! I was not going to let that happen to my boys. Whatever it took, I would do it to keep my sons on the right track.
The first things I learned as I tried to connect my sons to positive male role models on the outside was that I was considered a “threat” by most of the wives since my husband was in prison. Crazy! I wasn’t asking their husbands to spend time with ME, while I was asking them to spend time with my sons. This truth shocked me. Nonetheless, I learned a better way to connect my sons to positive influences than just asking someone to mentor them.
As I watched parents try and control their kids, I couldn’t help but think how bad of parents they were. I told myself I would never let my kids behave like that… especially in public.
Here is how to connect your son(s) to positive role models:
- Keep Dad involved in his life. Finding ways to make sure they are connecting is the most important thing you can do Visits, phone calls, letters— how ever you can keep the lines of communication open, do it. If your husband is stable and healthy, you want to keep him in a place of strong influence in your child’s life. And yes, there are in fact many stable and healthy fathers who happen to be in prison. Now, onto finding other people to support your child while Dad is away…
- Find your son’s interests. This is important because now you know what skills and interests you are looking for in a mentor.
- Find a mentor who is already mentoring other boys. This could be a coach, teacher, pastor, youth pastor, trainer, club leader, scout leader, you get the idea. Determine what your son is interested in and look in that field for a connection.
- Get your son involved! Sign him up for the sport or activity to the positive influence that you are looking for.
- Stay away! This is important. You need to give your son room to be his own person, build confidence in himself, and succeed/fail on his own terms within the boundaries and connections you have created.
- Keep looking for more positive connections. The more support your child has, the better. This way, if an activity doesn’t work out, or his mentor moves, or quits, he still has other connections to keep him moving in the right direction.
In conclusion, finding solid role models for your children is really important. If you are not intentional about making the connections, they will find someone to look up to model after on their own. Most likely, it will certainly not be someone you would pick.
Stay strong, stay focused, and stay connected.
I am rooting for you!