I have been divorced from an abusive man for a couple of years now and I’m worried about the impact all of this has had on my two sons. I realize that as they get older and bigger, I start to worry about how they will their future families. I don’t want to be paranoid, but in some ways I worry they’ll turn out like their dad. I haven’t remarried, so I don’t have any role models for them. Any suggestions on how to help them turn out to be good men?
This is certainly an important question, as your efforts will not only benefit your boys in the short-term, but will also have a long-term impact on their future relationships.
If you haven’t had great experiences with healthy men in your own life, chances are you may benefit from talking with friends or loved ones who have. You want to be careful to not generalize about men around your sons based only on your personal experiences. It will be important for all of you to see what’s possible when a good man influences a family.
Besides talking with others, you can also read a few different books on fatherhood and the powerful impact of a healthy man. A book such as “Why Fathers Count” can help you begin to understand what you can nurture in your boys to prepare them for living in a family.
Another great resource to consider is the book “Wild Things” by Stephen James and David Thomas. This is a great resource for parents and mentors who want to learn how to nurture a boy into a healthy man. It has specific steps parents can follow in the key developmental stages from birth through early adulthood.
Don’t just cross your fingers and hope they’ll turn out differently than their father. If they still have contact with their father and he continues to live beneath his own potential, it’s important for you to counteract his example with the vision of what they can become.
I encourage you to find mentors for your sons through sports, youth groups through your church or the Boy Scouts of America, or social networks. It’s important that your sons see and experience the influence of a committed and protective man.
Your sons may already have friends whose fathers are involved in their lives. Meet the parents of your sons’ friends and seek opportunities for them to spend time in those families. You may not have the ideal family situation, but you can encourage your sons to emulate the examples of men who are involved in the lives of their family members.
Open up to them about your purpose and intentions. Let them know what you hope to see in their lives as they grow into adulthood.
Stopping the cycle of abuse is a gift to future generations. As you work to heal the scars from your own bad experiences with men and provide positive examples of healthy fathering for your own sons, you are giving them something of great value.