Raising Future Fathers

This blog post was originally published on June 25, 2013.

I’ve always heard girls being asked to make their beds, fold laundry, help prepare meals, and even care for other children because they’ll “be mothers one day”. But a lot less of that same training and pressure is placed on boys and their ability to be both self-sufficient and emotionally connected to other kids because they’ll “be fathers one day”.

Preparing young boys to head off to college and getting them excited about having a great career years down the line are certainly relevant aspects of their upbringing. Motivation, learning about individual interests, and honing various skills while growing up are important in setting children up for higher education. Time and again, however, I’ve been disappointed as responsible-looking young men arrive in a new city to start undergraduate studies and suddenly feel lost and incapable of taking care of themselves. Without parents or hired help around, they end up dining out frequently and often live in apartments that beg for a cleaning squad to pay a visit.

Years later as fathers, gender-related rituals are passed on, especially among more conservative cultures. And so the classic, “boys don’t cry and fathers are less capable of emotionally connecting with their children”, stereotypes spill over to the next generation.

Every generation brings change, and with this one, we see a new wave of men who have brought along changing attitudes and behaviours – becoming more involved and caring dads. Yet throughout my travels, I have found this to depend more on individual preferences than social influences, and I can’t help but feel that we’re putting boys at a disadvantage. Why wait to see them as men attending college and fend for themselves? Why wait for them to become fathers and choose to help their partners with their own kids? Why not give them a fair chance and early start by allowing them to emotionally connect throughout their childhood in much the same ways their sisters get to?

So, with18 in mind, try to remember that young boys may also become fathers or uncles one day, and can be helped in their future roles by raising them as such.

Happy parenting,


 N.B.: 18 in Mind is a blog about the day your kids turn 18 and the parenting years in between!