My friend Autumn lost her husband a little over a year ago. Now, in her mid 40s, she is a single mother raising three kids on her own.
Her son is 12. In an effort to gain insight on how to raise a son alone, Autumn recently posed this question:
Dads, what would your advice be? As a mother of a son whose dad passed away, I am keenly aware that there are things a father would know to share that I won’t.
P.S. He already taught himself to tie a tie from YouTube.”
Her last sentence was a punch to my gut.
Learning to tie a necktie is one of a thousand things that a son should learn from his dad. Something beautiful and virtuous and eternal happens when a father teaches his son how to step into manhood.
The fact that Autumn is asking the question tells me that her son is going to be just fine. After all, he has a mother who understands that there are some lessons boys need to learn from men. So, she leans on her brother and her son’s coaches to fill the void.
This was my response to her question. I didn’t mull it over. I wrote the first thing that came to mind. And now, reading back over my response weeks later, I wouldn’t change a word:
One piece of advice? Compel him to work. And keep working. Mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, planting a tree, raking the leaves, replacing light bulbs…it doesn’t matter what it is, although the more jobs you can find for him outdoors, the better. Physical labor is really important because it builds his body as it builds his wits. Callouses = good.
Something happens inside the soul of a boy when he accomplishes something through sweat. It builds something noble in him.
I have nothing against TV or gaming except for this…it keeps boys from working regularly.
The questions he’s asking himself but likely would never say out loud because he couldn’t put them into words are these: Do I have what it takes? Am I a man? Am I strong? Does the world need me?
To that end, praise him for doing things that neither you nor his sisters could do as well. In an odd way, let him be the knight who defends your castle.
But above all, keep him working.
There are 24 million kids who live in a home without a father. That’s over one-third of all children in the United States. So, this is a question of paramount importance to millions of mothers.
How would you answer her question? Autumn is considering compiling the responses in a scrapbook for her son, “Notes my father would have given ….”
Your advice could help shape a young man’s life.
What advice would you give to a single mother raising a son on her own? Share your ideas in the comments below.