Raising children is a huge responsibility that often keeps parents focused on the day-to-day routine of keeping their children fed, clothed, happy, and on time for all of their extracurriculars more than thinking about their future spouses. Often during this grind, it can be easy to forget that someday sooner than we think, these children we’re parenting will become full-fledged adults. They will likely end up in relationships with people who expect them to live as emotionally healthy and responsible partners.
Unfortunately, many children will not be prepared to become good husbands or good wives for various reasons. Some of them may not have a good example to follow. While others will not be taught the life skills they need to create a healthy relationship. And as many of us know, trying to establish a happy marriage without the skills to navigate healthy relationships is a disaster waiting to happen.
I am the mother of a son and a daughter. I am fully aware that I have my hands full as I try to teach them the skills they need to become good spouses! But as the mother of a son, I feel a heavier weight of responsibility to best prepare my son to be a good husband. Not that I believe that teaching daughters to be good wives is not as important. It is. However, as a woman of faith, I believe that my son will someday become the head of his household. He will set the tone for a healthy, loving marriage.
And I am fighting an uphill battle as a widow. My son lost his father when he was two. And while he has many loving and worthy father figures in his life to show him the ropes, it is primarily my responsibility to prepare him to be the best husband he can be, as his father was. I pray that I can do the job well, and I want to encourage parents to put care and intention into teaching their sons to be good men!
10 Ways to Prepare Your Son to Be a Good Husband
There are many life skills little boys need to learn to prepare them to become good husbands. These are 10 of the most important ones (some serious, and some sillier but will be oh-so-appreciated by their wives!).
1. Listening Skills
Communication is one of the most significant factors in why couples break up. Listening is a skill that is hard to learn, but it is crucial when it comes to healthy communication.1
When it comes to listening, there are two types: passive and active.2 Passive listening is hearing what is being said without fully understanding the meaning. Active listening means giving full attention to the speaker and working to understand what is being said. Active listeners tend to be better communicators and problem solvers. Parents can help their children become active listeners by teaching these tips:3
- Maintain eye contact with the person speaking.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Ask relevant questions.
- Repeat back what the speaker says to show comprehension.
- Listen for the full meaning of the message being sent.
2. Fight Fair
You can’t have a healthy relationship without knowing how to resolve conflict efficiently and fairly. Unfortunately, few people know how to fight fair these days. It’s no wonder our children aren’t learning this skill. However, it is essential to teach our sons the art of resolving conflict if we want them to be good husbands.4
While you can read dozens of books on this subject alone, here are some basic tips for teaching kids how to fight fair:5
- Identify exactly what is making you upset.
- Express your feelings with words.
- Don’t yell or use degrading language.
- No stonewalling (refusing to communicate).
- Take a time out if things get heated.
- Try to find compromise or understanding.
3. Be Helpful
Teaching your son to be helpful around the house will go a long way with his future spouse! Regardless of whether you believe in traditional gender roles, a young man should know how to do the dishes, do his laundry, clean up after himself, and cook a good meal before getting married.6 Not only will these skills make him capable of independent living, but doing these things well and offering to help his partner get these and other things done around the house will be important in his marriage.
4. Put Things Where They Belong
Is it just me, or do men, in general, tend to have a serious disability when it comes to putting things back where they belong? I’m joking. Kind of. Not really.
But seriously, this is a skill that my late husband struggled with. It’s also a skill that my now-fiancé seems to lack entirely. And my son isn’t showing much promise either. Clearly, I have some work to do. But I am bound and determined to teach my son how to put things back where they belong because I want to save his future wife from the maddening frustration I live with every day. You’re welcome, future daughter-in-law.
5. Use Your Eyeballs
This phrase gets used in my household several times a day. My husband would stand in front of the fridge, pantry, or closet, looking for a specific item. He swore up and down that it wasn’t there. Of course, when I came to look for it myself, the thing he was looking for was sitting right in front of his face. Every. Single. Time. My son, it seems, has inherited this confounding trait.
It has gotten to the point where I don’t even come to the aid of the men in my house anymore. When I hear, “Moooom! I can’t find the (insert thing here),” I simply yell back, “USE YOUR EYEBALLS!” Miraculously, they find it.
All this to say, please, for the love of all that is good, teach your sons how to use their eyeballs.
6. Work Hard
All kids need to experience the value of hard work and responsibility. But sons, especially, need to be taught how to work hard for their and their future family’s sense of security and well-being. However, this is a skill that’s hard to teach children because they’re not capable of understanding concepts like responsibility and work ethic in their full capacity. We, as parents, can do things as they get older that will help them grasp these complex concepts. These are some tips, according to Forbes:16
- Model good work ethic. Don’t complain about your job or the task at hand. Dig in and get to work with a positive attitude.
- Let them fail. Too often, parents intervene in something their child is struggling with. This deprives your child of learning how to see failure as a new opportunity to learn. It also deprives them of the glory of their subsequent success and how their hard work got them there.
- Give them responsibilities from a young age. Cleaning up after themselves, making their bed, bringing laundry to the laundry room, etc., are all things that most young children should be responsible for.
- Teach them to put work before play. Do they have homework? Finish it before you play LEGOS. Is your bed unmade? Make it before you can have screen time.
- Praise them for their hard work and dedication. Instead of congratulating them for the result of their work (a good grade on a test), give them praise for the hard work and determination they put into learning the subject.
7. Treat People With Respect
Showing respect is imperative for any healthy relationship, but it’s especially important in a healthy marriage.7,8 Without respect in a relationship, there is no real foundation to build upon. Learning how to respect others, including a spouse, begins at an early age. As with most life skills, teaching your child to be respectful starts with you. Modeling respectful behavior toward yourself, your child, and others is the most effective way of teaching kids how to be respectful.9
8. Be Trustworthy
One of the most essential skills to teach to prepare your son to be a good husband is trustworthiness. Being trustworthy is defined as being someone worthy of confidence and dependable. According to relationship experts, trustworthiness is one of the most important characteristics people want in a spouse.10 Without trust, meaningful connections between the parties of the relationship can be challenging.
Teaching our kids to be trustworthy starts very young; we show our kids we are trustworthy by being someone they can depend on. We can then encourage our children to become trustworthy by teaching them basic qualities of being a trustworthy person, like being honest, keeping a promise, and being kind and caring.11 Some great books that help teach the concept of trustworthiness are The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Berenstain Bears and the Truth.
9. Show Love Openly
Showing our sons that feeling and expressing emotion is okay is one of the most important skills we can teach to prepare our sons to be good husbands.12 Not only will processing and expressing emotion greatly benefit your son’s personal relationships, but studies also show that emotion suppression can have physical and psychological health consequences. Helping boys embrace their feelings and express them openly will benefit them in more areas than just their marriage.17
10. Practice Forgiveness
The ability to forgive and seek forgiveness is a skill most people need to learn. Forgiveness significantly contributes to marital satisfaction and is one of the most critical factors that affect marital longevity.13 As with everything else, teaching our children forgiveness is best taught by example. But forgiving is hard to do for many people. Here are some tips for helping teach forgiveness (and it may be a good refresher course for us adults!):13
- Forgiving does NOT mean forgetting. Instead, it is letting go of the negative feelings that do not serve you.
- Try to understand the root cause of the person’s actions who hurt you. It doesn’t make the behavior right, but understanding encourages compassion.
- Be sure to identify the feeling you are experiencing before offering forgiveness. For example, a response to a sibling’s “I’m sorry” would look like, “Nathan, I am angry that you took my toy without asking. Please ask before you take something of mine next time. I forgive you.”
- Let it go. Stop dwelling on the hurt and release the anger that you feel. Sometimes it can help to write a forgiveness letter (even if it’s never sent) or use visualization to let the pain go.14,15
Preparing your son to be a good husband isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes time, effort, and patience to teach him the life skills he needs to meet the needs of his future spouse. But it will be well worth all the time and effort when you witness your son becoming the loving, helpful, trustworthy man and husband you wished him to be. Your son’s future spouse, and his children, will thank you!