7 Tips On Raising Your Son To Be A Great Man

October 19, 2011  |  
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Few things are as strong as a mother’s love for her child. But when it comes to boys, little will rival the connection he shares with his mama. The intricate nature of a mother’s love for her son has been covered by everyone from Maya Angelou to Sigmund Freud  and when passed through the lens of class and race in America, that relationship takes on entirely new dimensions. Black men that get caught up in the system of imprisonment and frequent unemployment start off as someone’s baby.

Regardless of whether men grow up in a single parent household or not, moms typically lead child rearing efforts. Much of that time is spent sheltering your boy, protecting his knees and elbows from boo-boos, answering to his call and making him happy. And rightly so. He’s your baby and deserves your love. The problem is that often, the way in which we raise our boys doesn’t always match up with what we and the rest of society expect of them as men.

The term “mama’s boy” probably comes to mind. Clearly a man should have a cherished place in his heart for his mama but that shouldn’t interfere with his ability to have an adult relationship with another woman or be a productive member of society and his community. Even as you spend your last dime to give that perfect little angel love and attention as only a mother can, it’s important to keep your eyes on the end goal: raising a good man.

Kids grow up fast but not over night. There will be plenty of time for your little man to be your baby but along the way, help him be the kind of man any mother can be proud of.

Make him “earn” his keep.

Let’s face it, you’re probably going to do most of the heavy housework but you’re not doing your boy any favors in the long run by leaving him completely out of it. Even something as simple as holding the dustpan works to include younger boys and as he gets older, take your pick of “man” chores he can be responsible for.  Not only is tandem housework great bonding time but it reinforces your child’s ideas about partnership in the home and working for his living.

Give him choices

You’re always going to be around for the easy choices–what to eat, when to go to bed, what to wear to school. Sometimes it’s quicker for you to decide for him but much harder choices await him in the not-so-distant future and beyond. Should his first brushes with making decisions that impact his life be the tough choices like smoking, going for a joyride with friends or worse? Men don’t make good choices in life by accident–they need practice. Pick two options you are okay with and let your boy decide on one that’s good for him. The more practice he gets making good decisions under your watchful eye, the easier it will be to make the right choice when you’re not around.


Make him responsible

You have to have your act together when you’re responsible for another life form, even if it has four legs or a set of fins. Dog-walking is especially useful in man training since a dog must be lead by a strong and authoritative figure allowing your boys inner-man to rise to the occasion out of necessity.

Practice saving

No one prefers a broke brother. The road to long-term wealth and financial health is paved with the ideas he is forming about the value of a dollar right now. It’s surprising how much cash children get from friends, family and sometimes perfect strangers, only to blow it all on candy and chips at the corner bodega. It may be too early to be thinking about his retirement but not saving a lil’ something for a rainy day. Short-term savings goals are effective and fun. If he want’s an Xbox kinect, hold out until he can hold on to half the cost then you can put in the other half.

Gentleman in training

If chivalry is dead, it’s because no one is training our boys to be gentleman. Holding a door open, letting a lady go in ahead of you or giving up a seat in our gender-equal society may no longer be necessary but your kid doesn’t know that. If you’ve ever wished a man displayed a bit of chivalry for you, what you really wished is that his mom taught him how to treat a lady from the get.

No Man’s an Island

He’s the center of your world. But in the real world, he’ll need to know that it’s not all about him. In order to be successful in school and life, he’ll need to be a team player, work with people who are from a world of places and check his ego at the door.  Team-centric activities like sports and enrichment activities like volunteering and after school activities like working on the school paper are great ways to build people skills.

Stick to your guns

Nothing inspires young black men more than strong black women. That may seem like a tall order at times but a very simple way to show your boy how to be a man of integrity is to exhibit those qualities yourself. Manywomen have a hard time telling their babies something they don’t want to hear (like no)  but that’s all part of being a man. Moreover, by not sticking to your word, you show him that he doesn’t need to either.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. He may not like it, but he’ll respect your word. And grow into a man that expects others to respect and trust his.

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  • Guest

    I don’t know why someone would write that “nothing inspires young black men more than strong black women.”  It clearly can’t be proven, but I certainly hope it isn’t true.  If it is, it’s pretty sad.  Even the thought is a fairly stark commentary on the state of things. 

  • Fefe

    Boys and girls need to have positive male role models in there life and they are not that hard to find. We do out children a disservice when we pretend that we as women can do it alone.

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  • motherof2

    Can a man teach a boy how to be a man if he lacks all the necessary qualities himself? If I'm not raising my son to be a great father and husband, what is my job as a mother? School and extra curricular activities teaches him social interaction and people skills outside of the home to be successful on a daily basis. As a mother I supplement that social interaction daily to keep these skills on track; however, as a mother my first objective is to give him a clear understanding of how to maintain a successful partnership, as well as guidance on raising his own family.


      I beg to differ. Actually, it is the other way round. Parents are the first social agents and bear the responsibility of starting their children on the first initiation to learning.Then school comes in and build on the blocks you are establishing on the home front.

  • oraclelearns

    This story is about single-mothers raising their sons. So most of the comments are ridiculous. Guys ask "where is the husband/father? The story is about single-mothers raising their sons.

    No need to pretend that smart women can raise both sons and daughters to be well educated, contributing adults. Why pretend this is a lie, when most of the guys who commented, were raised the same way.

    Let's just be real.

  • Diamond

    Sorry I meant independent. Swype is horrible lol

  • Diamond

    Also people say the best way to teach a man is a man. I have mixed feelings about this one. ANY man can be a man. There are men who have their priorities effed up and there are men who dont. Nowadays young men ( baby fathers) are scared to raise a baby boy because they grew up in a fatherless home. So they leave. They dont want that type of responsibility and are afraid they will fail at it. SOME men who did grow up in fatherless homes and who do understand how hard it is for a single mother to raise a man KNOWS he has to be there for his child and teach him how to be a better man. Now those who did have a father growing up is not always so positive because u have abusive fathers, drug addicted fathers, fathers that expect the woman to be the bread winners and maids and lets not forget the fathers who molest their own children. This can destroy a young boys’ mind and (girl) they will either accept it or make a difference. Thats why u see girls out here thinking that its ok for a man to put his hands in you or the drug dealers and the bad boys are a come up for them. They are selling themselves short at both ends. I do applaud the fathers who are and did make an positive influence on their childs life and raise them to be strong men. I do applaud the mothers who had to struggle to teach and at the same time learn how to raise a decent man. I grew up with a father in and out of my life. The effed up thing about it was that I had three younger brothers. Father was a drug addict and a thief. I felt for my brothers but they learned what not to be and what mistakes not to make and how to be indepent . Along with the most important help from my mother =)

  • I saw an interesting piece on elephants in South Africa. The park authorities were finding dead rhinos gored right through the middle. Turns out the culprits were young male elephants. Some years ago the park rangers had trucked out the big old crusty males. Now, these young punk elephants were coming into puberty too early. With hormones raging and no adult male elephants to curb the hooliganism, dead rhinos were the result. A society devalues men at its own peril.
    And why don't women start making more intelligent decisions about child-bearing. In Seattle it's rare to see an Asian woman with more than two kids. I see young and (presumably) single black women with multiple progeny all the time. Many some women should wait before the babies come.

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  • 1king

    I like the article but whats lacking is it makes no mention of a man being around. Women need men to help them raise children. Articles like this make women believe they don't need a man and it just not true. We need each other. It's like women are destined to raise kids on their own and it doesn't have to be like that. It seems unfair to both parties to lay it out like this. This is not a dig at single parents but as you can see we have a whole generation of children that were reared by women and are out of control so something is definitely missing. Men are needed for safety and discipline and confidence building in the home. It takes both parts. But women need to choose men instead of males. Just because it has a beard and a nice car doesn't make it a man. A lot of women mate with the popular male at the time then want a man to take on his responsibilities after he leaves . Women and men need to make better choices. To me articles like these are self esteem killers.

    • LaLaLaMeansILoveYou

      I think that a lot of you are missing the point…the writer did not intentionally skip over the fact that having the father or husband in a boy's life is essential, but the fact of the matter is that there ARE a LOT of single mothers raising boys by themselves, and was offering some good pointers for doing so. I found the article very insightful for both single AND two-parent households.

      It's like that slogan "Breastmilk is best for a baby"…but in some cases a mother is not able to breastfeed…so they offer suggestions for a good baby formula instead.

  • Michael

    To Kayla: a heartfelt show of gratitude.
    Thank you.

  • L. Chase

    Co-sign w magister actually, sometimes mn can be rather one minded..while it is an admirable intention to raise your son to be a good partner, it should probably not be the absolute focus..idk..the jury is gonna be out on that one for another 16 1/2 yrs, at the end of the day i think that if you teach them respect (i mean old school REAL respect) then everything else will fall into place. Respect for oneself will dictate school, career, hygeine, etc. Respect for others will make your child pleasant to be around, not just for women but for everyone. Respect is underrated. Think about what a wonderful world this would be if we respected each other and ourselves and our earth and family(as a noun) and on and on. As corny as it may sound, #truth. God bless.


  • A proud black mother

    I believe these are just a few essential lessons to be learned when raising any child. Children need to be respectful, obedient and learn responsibility early. Too many children these days don't respect their elders, are horrible with money and feel that rules don't apply to them. Take what you can from this article and build on it.

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  • Dee

    Okay, but what is your suggestion about what is missing? Conquer your anger and contribute! Don't be blind to your opportunity to add to the list and speak to this audience. I, for one, agree that it takes a (good, decent, mature) man to raise a (good, decent, mature) man. But if the males around don't measure up, it doesn't prevent you from raising a decent man. This list isn't complete, but part of raising a man is to raise him to be a success at home and at work. Decision making is key, being financially knowledgeable and reasonable is essential. I would have added to the list teaching about appropriate touch. My son loves to kick, push, hit, head-butt, wrestle, etc in play. I don't let him touch me like that and tell him what is appropriate for appropriate touch.
    PS: No homosexual partner wants or deserves a jerk of a man any more than a woman would.

  • Kayla

    nope, there is one tip that trumps all of these. HAVE A POSITIVE BLACK MAN IN HIS LIFE. PREFERABLY A HUSBAND. nobody can teach a boy how to be a man better than a man

    • JustAshley

      "nobody can teach a boy how to be a man better than a man"
      You BETTER PREACH Kayla!!!

    • Two Cents Worth

      @Kayla: I think any black woman who could easily find a positive black man to be in their sons life, they would have already had one a long time ago. I think the author of this article realizes this is a problem in our community. So until this "positive black husband or man" is identified, whether real or imaginary, black women will have to do with what they have. And that is "themselves!"

    • The Baroness

      Kayla, the only edits I would make to your statement:

      "Have a positive man in his life, and that man should be your husband and the boy's father".

      And I agree; it's very difficult for any woman, no matter how wonderful she is, to raise a good man.

    • oraclelearns

      Kayla, really? Marriage – There is this little thing called the divorce rate –Yeah, ya know where men and women cannot seem to live together under the same roof. Especially since they got married THEN had children. Yeah, it's all the craze.

      Marriage is not what it use to be. Please wake up.

  • Everblazzin

    Cut your mightier than thou BS….you act as BRAND NEW as a cheap pair of sneakers. As a MAN, the artical is informative and well put for those who SEEK and NEED the advice. Btw, whoever yo mama was should have taught you that the successful union/relationship of a black man and black woman will reap positive benefits to the children when the parents are happy. Translation…better grades, better social skills, better chance at becoming successful in life PERIOD.

    • Two Cents Worth

      @Everblanniz: Thank You, Merci, Gracias a million times for putting the first commentor in check. It was sorely needed. I am also a single mother of an african american boy and I not only agree with the article, but I am going to follow the principles. I believe it will ultimately benefit my son (and others as well) in the long term. The article was very well written and the main focus was on young boys becoming great men – not on becoming better men for women!! I see so many women over-loving their sons in public and at home and just think OMG it's going to be a disaster when that child grows up. They don't want their boys to get dirty at the playground (and are constantly cleaning them up), they don't let them play with bugs or animals, they don't even let them explore the world around them even at a safe distance because the mama's are afraid!! I give a big thumbs up to the writer of this article for contributing something positive to the future of black men.