Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
One of the first lessons a father has to learn is that his son is his own person, that we cannot expect them to simply be a do-over of who we are. They will grow up with their own interests, their own dreams and their own desires. And we, as fathers, should respect these dreams as they are the stuff that will fuel the man your son is meant to be. This means giving them the space to spread their wings and make their own mistakes. Even if we say we don’t want to force our sons to continue your journey where you left off, we have to be careful and weary of our actions and approvals. How often do you tell him he is his own person, yet your reactions and encouragement say something else?
As a father, this is not always easy.
So, if your son is not to follow suit on your experience, what can you teach him? When your son’s road is completely different from your personal experience, how can you be there for him? How can you guide your son without telling him who to be? Simple. Show him what kind of man he should be.
We tend to tell our sons how to act, how to behave, yet our own actions are far from what the expectations we place on them. How can you tell them to be honest, yet we constantly lie to those close to us. We tell them that stealing is wrong, yet we do it every time we can in the way we conduct our business and do our taxes. We tell them to stand up to the bully, yet we remain seated and silent when confronted with injustice. We tell them never to be an abuser, yet will take any opportunity place in front of us as a way to strut our own power over others. We constantly teach under the ideology of “do as I say, not as I do.” There’s a word for this kind of behavior.
If you want a son who is honest, show him what an honest man looks like. If you want him to stand for himself, show him what a man standing looks like. If you want a son who grows up into a man you can be proud of, be a man he can be proud of. Stop telling your son who he needs to be, but rather show him the kind of man you want him to become.
Whatever path he chooses after that, he will walk it with the character and virtues founded on the example you set. Sure, he might not become a doctor, or a ball player, or your heir to the family business. What he will be is a man who can make the world a little better than it was before. I think that is something the world needs more off.