7 Self-Care Lessons Fathers Can Teach Their Sons

If you grew up with a Baby Boomer or Gen-Xer for a dad, there’s a good chance you weren’t taught many lessons in self-care.

Apart from teaching sons how to shave, most other forms of self-care were considered “girly” and not something most guys traditionally practiced.

Fortunately, times have since changed. With more people realizing that self-care isn’t just for girls, many parents are now teaching their sons to embrace self-care, as well.

Now that you’re a dad, it’s up to you to show your son that there is no shame in making time for himself. By teaching him how to care for both his body and mind, you’ll be setting him up for a happier and healthier life.

Whether he’s still in diapers or graduating from high school, here are some essential self-care lessons that are worth passing down to your son

Lesson #1: Eat to Fuel Your Body

In any stage of life, encouraging your son to eat a healthy and nutritious diet is key to improving his overall health and well-being. One of the best ways to get him interested in healthy eating is by getting him involved in the kitchen at an early age.

You can easily turn cooking into a bonding activity by choosing a fun recipe every weekend and making it together. It doesn’t matter what age your son is: No one is too young or too old to enjoy a good meal with their dad.

Of course, some teenagers may not initially be keen on this bonding activity (or any bonding activity, for that matter). However, the lure of a delicious-looking meal is usually too great for their perpetually-hungry stomachs to pass up.

Lesson #2: Find Ways to Break a Sweat Every Day

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years, you probably know that America is facing a serious obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five children is now obese.

Part of the reason why kids are getting bigger these days is because they’re stuck inside playing on digital devices. If your son is constantly glued to his video games, get him outside and show him that physical fitness can be just as fun as his electronics.

Self-Care Lesson 1:  Get away from a screen, and enjoy the outdoors

To make physical fitness a life-long habit, think about what your son might best respond to in terms of physical activity. Does he love group activities? Try signing him up for soccer or basketball camp. If he enjoys solo pursuits, get him involved in running or let him practice hitting tennis balls against the wall.

Lesson #3: Take Good Care of Your Skin

One of the most overlooked self-care lessons you can teach your son is how to care for his skin. Most guys don’t think about protecting their skin from the sun’s dangerous UV rays, and it’s now coming back to bite us.

As current skin cancer statistics clearly show, spending hours in the sun without proper sun protection is coming back to haunt many adults in their older years.

However, the remedy is right in front of us: According to a 2018 study published in JAMA Dermatology, wearing sunscreen can reduce the risk of melanoma (the most deadly type of skin cancer) by 40 percent in young people.

If your son is graduating from high school, consider getting him a simple skin care subscription that includes a daily face moisturizer with SPF. In fact, lead by example and get a subscription for yourself as well. It’s never too late to start taking better care of your skin.

Lesson #4: Handle Stress in Healthy Ways

There is nothing wrong with enjoying an occasional beer or glass of wine. The problem is when you return home from a stressful day of work and use alcohol to self-medicate.

Enjoy the occasional beer or drink

Studies have shown that kids are influenced by their parents’ drinking habits.

In a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found that elevated drinking and mental health issues in fathers were linked to a significant increase in anxiety and/or depression in their children.

Rather than turn to mind-altering substances for a quick stress-reliever, show your son that there are better ways to handle your mental health symptoms.

Practicing meditation, getting exercise and spending time with loved ones are all examples of healthy ways to relieve stress.

Lesson #5: Do What Gives You Joy—Even If They’re “Girly”

Speaking of mental health, guys are in serious trouble in this category as well. Although women are more likely to suffer from depression, men are roughly four times more likely to commit suicide, according to statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Experts believe that traditional ideas of manhood are a contributing factor as to why men are committing suicide in such high numbers. In fact, a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health found that men with traditional views of masculinity were more at risk for depression.

Encouraging your son to do things he loves—regardless of gender norms—can be healthy and advantageous as he grows up. He’ll grow up knowing that he is free to express himself as he pleases, and no doubt be much healthier for it.

Lesson #6: Regularly Step Away from Digital Devices

Electronic screen time has been linked to scores of mental health problems such as ADHD and anxiety. If your son is constantly hunched over with his eyes fixed on a screen, his screen time probably isn’t doing his body much good either.

Self-care: Enjoy the outdoors

Consider limiting screen time in your household and make it a point to get outside with your son.

Take the dog for a walk, go on a fishing trip, throw the football around or just spend time in your backyard together. Anything that gets you both outdoors and away from digital screens will do the trick.

Remember that to make this form of self-care work, you need to limit your own digital device usage as well. Otherwise, you’ll look like a complete hypocrite and your self care lesson will fall on deaf ears.

Lesson #7: Be Nicer to Yourself

Sometimes, our inner voice is our own worst enemy. If you notice your son being unusually harsh and self-critical, it’s worth teaching him how to treat himself with kindness and compassion.

Practicing positive self-affirmations is a particularly effective way to tame negative thought processes before they spiral out of control. Have your son stand in a mirror and challenge his negative thoughts by saying positive statements about himself.

If he feels embarrassed saying his positive affirmations out loud, have him write them down instead. Eventually, he’ll be able to recognize negative thought patterns and subvert them before they result in self-sabotage.

It’s Never Too Early/Late to Learn Self-Care

It doesn’t matter whether your son is a college graduate or if he still sleeps in a crib: There is no better time to start teaching him the importance of self-care.

The most effective way to start instilling these valuable self-care lessons is by allowing your son to see how you take care of your body and mind each day.

The best part about teaching your son self-care is that he can reap both the short-term and long-term benefits of the healthy lessons listed above.

By building a solid foundation of good habits, he’ll be more likely to carry them into adulthood for a happier and healthier future.

This sponsored article courtesy of our friends at Tiege Hanley. To learn more about Male Grooming, please check out our Grooming threads in our Fashion Forum!

Join us in the discussion and let us know what self-care lessons you would teach your son.