Single Moms Raising Sons: Shaping His Character, Part II

How do you help build your son’s character? Actually there are several things you can do: 

  • Talk to your son about his character. Teach him the characteristics that a man will possess. Use sentences such as a man shows responsibility, a man takes care of his possessions, a man shows respect to all women, a man shows respect for himself, a man is not lazy, a man works hard, a man tells the truth and other similar statements. Be careful not to become a nag. Talk to your son about it but nagging about it will defeat your purpose and turn your son off.  The point of your conversation is simply to help your son identify with the positive character traits that are found in his gender and encourage him to personify like characteristics.


  • Use teachable moments: When you see a situation where a man showed evidence of good character, point it out and talk about it with your son. Show him how the man showed good character and ask your son how he feels about it. Would he have done the same thing in similar circumstances? Teachable moments can be found from conversations, in movies, in every day life and in history.


  • Protect him from negative influences: Unfortunately, men are not always portrayed as strong, responsible and loving creatures in today’s society. While you cannot protect him from all of these negative depictions, watch the amount of exposure you allow him to have. In addition, maintain open communication with him regarding the other depictions. Get his opinion on what type of portrayal he is seeing. Have him point out the positives and negatives of the depiction he sees. 


  • Be a role model: This method cannot be overstressed. Sometimes when we talk too much, our sons can shut down and feel “nagged.”   When this happens, they often simply shut us out. By modeling appropriate behavior, your son still receives the benefit of the lesson without feeling as if you are constantly “harping” on him about something.  If you want him to respect women, ensure that you are living a respectful life in front of him. Additionally, if you are in a relationship where you are being disrespected or hurt, get help and get out.  This will have devastating consequence on your son.  It could have a negative impact on the way he respects women in general or you in particular. It could even have a negative impact on the way he respects himself.


  • Expose him to appropriate role models: As stated earlier, boys learn a great deal by watching. Some of the things that he sees you doing, he will translate as what women do. Ensure that he can see positive males doing positive things so he will understand that not only do women do those things, men do them too.  Make sure when seeking a role model that you find one that has the values you are trying to teach your son.  Role models can be found in various places including your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, faith based institutions, athletic programs, mentoring organizations, books, movies and museums.  It is okay to think outside of the box when seeking a role model for your son.


  • Learn male culture: One of the most important types of love that you can offer your son is supportive understanding love. The best way to give that to him is to make every attempt to understand male culture.  There is a difference between males and females. As long as we continue to try to raise our sons knowing only female culture, we are doing them a disservice. Learning and understanding male culture will go a long way towards your ability to help your son navigate this culture and develop a strong character.

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3 comments to   
Single Moms Raising Sons: Shaping His Character, Part II

  • Mitchell Duxbury

    I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

  • singleparent411

    Hmmmm…really good questions. Some people give advice because they have done a job well and can speak from their positive experiences about what works. Some people have studied and have a tremendous amount of book knowledge and speak with technical expertise. Others have made mistakes, learned from them and can speak from what they have learned from their experiences. I think I am a happy mix of all of the above. There have been some things in my parenting journey that I have done really well and am happy to share from my experiences. Others I wish I had done better and am happy to share what I have learned from my mistakes. I also study, read and observe a lot and share some wisdom from the experiences of others. In all, I think I try to bring a balanced approach in the hopes that what I know and what I have learned can help others. Thanks for your comments.

  • Larisa Scott

    You’re giving all this good advice, but have you followed it? Have you raised your boys good? It seems like you’d have to be doing really good to give this advice. Are you?