4 Ways to Be a Strong Male Role Model if Your Son Doesn’t Live with You
While most people agree that having a strong male role model in their lives can help boys grow up to be well-adjusted men, it can be difficult to be the role model your son needs when he doesn’t live with you. If it’s your goal to remain an important figure in his life, here are four ways to be a strong male role model for you son from a distance.
Maintain a relationship with your ex
When your former spouse has custody of your son, it’s important to maintain a relationship with her that goes beyond a quick hello whenever you pick up your son for visitation. While the circumstances of your divorce may make communication unpleasant, it’s still necessary when you want to know about the aspects of your son’s life that he may not always choose to share with you.
In addition to staying informed, trying to maintain a cordial relationship with your son’s mother can show him how it’s possible to maintain relationships and be polite even when there may be good reason not to be. It will also help your son better accept her new role as the primary authority figure and disciplinarian of the household.
Be intentional with your time together
While it can be easy to teach your son things on the fly when you live together, it becomes necessarily to put more effort into it when you only see him a few weekends a month. Although relaxing and having fun during your time together is still important, you may need to get a little more intentional about the life lessons you plan to teach during your visit.
For instance, you may decide to put off changing your car’s oil for another week so that you and your son can do it together. The same goes with other non-essential repairs around the house, certain volunteer activities and possibly even the preparation of meals from special family recipes. Of course, this doesn’t mean all your time must be about lessons. There’s nothing wrong with kicking back and watching the game in the evening after spending the day tackling a landscaping project together.
Model positive relationships with women
When your son is figuring out how to interact with girls, he’ll naturally look to you as his example. While maintaining a positive relationship with your child’s mother is important, it’s not the only relationship your son will notice. In fact, everything from the way you treat random women at the grocery store to the way you talk about women in general will be on your son’s radar.
Being careful to avoid sexist jokes during your son’s visit, as well as unfavorable comments about women at work can help your son form a more positive opinion of the opposite sex. If your son is at the age where he’s beginning to take an interest in girls, take the time to talk to him about acceptable ways to treat the girls he dates. When you’re in a committed relationship yourself, the way you interact with your girlfriend in front of him can go a long way toward showing him what’s appropriate.
Know when to apologize
Unfortunately, there comes a time for every parent where you simply can’t keep a promise you made to your child. Perhaps the most important lesson you can teach your son is the value of apologizing when you’ve broken your word or disappointed someone. Being a positive male role model is just as much about how you handle the things you’re unable to do with your son as it is about what you do in the time you spend together.